SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants announced their minor league coaches a few weeks ago, it certainly seemed no accident that longtime big league staffer Bill Hayes was the new manager of the San Jose Giants. Joey Bart, the top catching prospect in the minors, will begin the season with San Jose.
"I know we wanted to make sure we had a catching guy with him, so this worked out great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Billy will be a great mentor .... to have him day in and day out will be helpful with his progress. That's going to be nice for Joey."
Hayes has been a roving catching instructor in the minors since being let go as first base coach. He previously was Bochy's bullpen catcher and is about to start his 20th season with the organization.
Bart is in his first full professional season, and thus far has mostly kept his head down. There has been some ribbing from veterans -- they made Bart hit first against Madison Bumgarner in live BP in case Bumgarner felt like buzzing someone -- but Bochy praised the 22-year-old for the way he has handled his first camp.
"He's an eager learner," Bochy said. "You watch him and he listens and wants to take in everything ... I love the way he's carrying himself."
Bochy has had his first extended look at Bart this spring.
"Very good mechanics. He has a strong arm and I think he has a good setup behind the plate," Bochy said. "He's a physical guy and you see the size of him, so there's no question he's going to be able to handle the workload behind the plate for a long season. And the power, it's impressive, you know."
Bart hit 13 homers in 45 minor league games last year. He has shown that pop in BP, particularly when going the opposite way, and he should soon get a crack at showing it in games. Bochy said he'll throw Bart into some early Cactus League games. The Giants kick off the exhibition season Saturday.