By Derek Wiley
Of the Keizertimes
If any of the more than 5,000 fans in attendance didn’t know Joey Bart’s name going into the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Fourth of July game, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft made sure they knew it afterwards.
Bart, in just his second at-bat with the Volcanoes, hit a two-run home run to left field.
“I wasn’t really thinking that much, like I always do at the plate or most of the time,” Bart said. “It was a change up and I went down and got it and put a good swing on it and it got up out of here. I got a good pitch to hit, a pitch I like and did some damage with it.”
Bart hit another home run in the bottom of the eighth and finished his first game with the Volcanoes 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
“My first game getting in front of all those people was a great time,” Bart said. “Obviously the home runs are great but you get hot and cold so you can’t ride the highs too high and just getting out here and having fun, being able to come play the game I love to play and kind of get away from all the craziness that’s been going on the last couple of weeks and kind of get settled in and start playing.”
Bart, after his junior season at Georgia Tech in which he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Baseball Player of the Year and won the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to college baseball’s top catcher, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants organization on June 4.
Bart then signed with the Giants on June 17 with a bonus of $7.025 million, the largest for a position player in the draft’s history.
“I think it meant more to my agents and the kind of work that they put in for me,” Bart said of the record signing bonus. “That’s definitely cool, no doubt, but we’re all here in pro ball, starting from the bottom, so I’ve got to work my way back up.”
Bart, who is living with a host family while playing for the Volcanoes this summer, plans to save the $7.03 million.
“I’m not looking to do much with it to be honest with you,” he said.
Bart hit a grand slam to right field against Boise on Monday, July 9 and is hitting .304 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in his first five games.
“I’m just glad to be back out here playing the game hard,” Bart said. “I believe if you play the game hard and prepare right, it will take care of you.”
But Bart, a 21-year-old who has spent his entire life in the Atlanta area at Buford High School and then Georgia Tech, feels like he’s just getting into the swing of things here in the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve still got some work to do before I’m really locked in,” Bart said. “It will come with time and at-bats. I’m looking forward to that moment.”