No one has had a strong 2018 season than Joey Bart who went from reach at eight to almost guaranteed to be gone by the time the Atlanta Braves select but after we saw Kyle Wright fall last year - anything is possible. One thing is clear - Joey Bart is the best catcher in the draft, and arguably had the best season out of any player.
Drafted in the 27th round out of high school, Bart declined to sign and instead enrolled at Georgia Tech where he had a fantastic three years where his numbers improved significantly each year. Bart started 42 games his Freshman year where he hit .299/.351/.382 while throwing out 43% of base runners. His Sophomore slump saw Bart hit .296/.370/.575 with 13 homers, 50 strikeouts, and 16 walks. He decided to best himself even more and finish 2018 hitting .359/.471/.632 with 16 homers, 56 strikeouts, 41(!!) walks, while throwing out 36% of would be base stealers.
Joey Bart has super easy power, and his swing path allows him to create tons of easy loft on the ball - this has translated to premium power numbers from a position that isn’t really known to create such. Bart possesses plus raw power, and could conceivably develop more game power as he continues to work on his craft. He has good bat speed, a hit tool that has graded better and better each year, and is very good defensively despite his size at catcher (6’3” 225lb+).
I’ve seen some pretty hilarious concerns regarding the fact that Georgia Tech’s track record with catchers isn’t incredible, and then seen them cite Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters as catchers that didn’t develop as much as some people wanted - but that is some good competition to be in the discussion with. There was a great article by Baseball America that talks about his incredible work ethic, and the fact that Georgia Tech let him call his own games - something very uncommon in college baseball.
Joey Bart has transformed questions surrounding him from “will he hit for more than just power” and “can he stay at catcher” to “will Joey be available at #2?” Bart has seen his stock rise rapidly and he is now in play at #1 if the Tigers decide to go underslot to save some money. It remains to be seen if he will be available at 8, however if he is the Braves would be getting a player that would be able to have a major league impact pretty quickly, and he would be the top rated catcher in a system filled with solid catching prospects (Alex Jackson, William Contreras, etc). If available, Bart makes a lot of sense for the Braves at 8.