If I could have, I would have published all of these Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles as soon as each pick was made. One of the benefits of writing them later, however, is having a more holistic perspective on the draft class as a whole. I wrote about the importance of 25th rounder Devin Davis for the Rays knowing that the team went on to select Joey Bart in the 27th round. However, I couldn’t describe Bart as part of the Rays’ Plan B for the draft (see that piece) for one simple reason: he almost surely won’t sign.
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Bart is a 6’3″, 230 catcher out of Buford High School in Georgia. He is the third power-hitting backstop that the Rays selected, and while he doesn’t compare to 2nd rounder Chris Betts, he has a much better chance of sticking at catcher than 16th rounder Joe Davis. He has worked immensely on parts of the catcher position that others don’t refine until years into their professional careers, pitch-framing and calling his own games. He also has good arm strength and a quick release. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that he doesn’t move well behind the plate and especially has issues blocking balls in the dirt. Despite all the work he has put in, he still may end up at first base.
On the positive side, Joey Bart will continue to give his all to remain at catcher, and if he does need to move to first, he has the requisite offensive potential. His bat speed is very good and he combines that with nice leverage in his swing to deliver power. He does have timing issues with the toe tap in his stance and also sometimes falls in love with his longer home run swing, but the offensive tools are there for Bart to be a star if he sticks at catcher or at least an average starting first baseman. It is no surprise that a player like that was getting calls from teams as early as the third round (hat tip to DRaysBay).
However, Bart told those teams that he is going to honor his commitment to attend Georgia Tech. That is why he slipped to the Tampa Bay Rays’ 27th pick, and the Rays can’t be optimistic about their chances of persuading him otherwise. The best they can do is finish up the rest of their draft signings, see how much money they have left, and give him a figure that they are willing to play. He’ll still probably say no. In all likelihood, we will be watching Bart play for Yellow Jackets for the next three years and see where he is entering the 2018 MLB Draft.
Click this link to read our other 2015 Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles.