What to Expect from Giants Catcher Patrick Bailey
Could Bailey be the long-term answer behind the plate in San Francisco?
The Giants have had a tough time replacing the impact of Buster Posey since he retired after the 2021 campaign. Former top prospect Joey Bart’s struggles both at the plate and behind it have cast doubt over his future role with the team, but a former first-round pick will now get his chance in the Bay Area. San Francisco confirmed that the Giants’ top pick from 2020, Patrick Bailey, will be promoted to the Majors. Here’s a look at Bailey’s stats, and how his tools could fit into the Giants’ long-term plans.
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A Look at Bailey
Giants catching prospect Patrick Bailey looked like a star in the making in 2018, when the NC State product showcased strong defensive capabilities and put up a strong freshman season at the plate. Bailey hit .321/.419/.604 with 13 home runs and 24 extra base hits that season, but it also proved to be his best season with the Wolfpack.
Bailey recorded more total extra base hits in his sophomore season, but both his batting average and slugging percentage slid in 2019. In his junior season, Bailey belted six home runs and nine extra base hits across 17 games before the COVID shutdowns ended the NCAA season. That strong start, coupled with his track record and excellent defense behind the plate, prompted the Giants to take him in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Since then, Bailey’s development has yielded mixed results. The former NC State star dominated the California League in 2021, but hit just .185 and posted a K% rate of 27.7% across 33 games with Eugene (A+) upon a promotion. Bailey numbers improved slightly in 2022 with the Emeralds, as he hit 27 extra base hits and recorded a .342 OBP. However, a less-than-stellar .225 average dragged Bailey’s total numbers down.
Bailey split the beginning of the 2023 season between Richmond (AA) and Sacramento (AAA). The 23-year-old posted an .882 OPS across 14 games with the Flying Squirrels, before being moved up to the River Cats. In just 14 games in Sacramento, Bailey owned a .216 average and .670 OPS.
MLB.com grades Bailey’s arm and fielding ability at 55, both of which are in the above-average range. The 23-year-old’s a strong defender behind the plate, and may very well turn into a better all-around catcher than incumbent starter Joey Bart. While Bart’s an exceptional framer with a strong arm, the former Georgia Tech’s pop time and blocking metrics both rank as below-average. At the plate, the switch-hitting Bailey does possess slightly above-average power and above-average plate discipline. However, his hit tool does grade out as slightly below-average.
Bailey will become the second player from the Giants’ 2020 Draft to be called up in recent weeks. Last week, the Giants promoted infielder Casey Schmitt to San Francisco after Brandon Crawford hit the IL. The promotion of Bailey comes amidst a flurry of moves made by the Giants. C Joey Bart was placed on the IL with a groin strain, while walk machine Cal Stevenson, who didn’t record a hit over 12 plate appearances with the Giants this season, was DFA’d.
A Look at the Giants and Fantasy Outlook
With both Bart and Roberto Perez — the latter of whom is done for the rest of the season thanks to shoulder surgery — on the IL, Bailey is set to tandem with C/OF Blake Sabol in San Francisco. While Bart’s received the bulk of the action behind the plate this season, Sabol’s played 20 games at the position and has been rather productive for the Giants at the dish. Sabol’s 118 OPS+ is fourth-best among Giants with at least 100 plate appearances this season, and his power should give him continued looks.
Bailey, on the other hand, is a steady hand behind the plate that projects to be a reliable defender behind the plate. Given Bart’s struggles at the plate, the former NC State star could emerge as the answer at catcher long-term. However, it’s unclear as to whether the 23-year-old — who has just 120 plate appearances above A ball — is ready to hit in the Majors just yet.
We don’t recommend running to pick him up, especially since it’s quite likely that Bailey could return back to the Minors once the Giants get Bart back.