2014 Top Prospects

Prospect Nation 2014 #17: Catcher Tommy Joseph

Tommy Joseph, Image- Jay Floyd

Acquired from San Francisco in a swap for Hunter Pence in July 2012, catcher Tommy Joseph quickly became one of the Phillies’ top positional prospects.  In the time since that trade, however, Joseph has struggled to produce as he has dealt with injury concerns that have prevented him from getting and staying hot.

Possessing a high ceiling bat and strong backstop skills, Joseph is still a prospect that could make a big splash in the Phils system if his health allows him to stay on the field.

In 2009 Joseph was was drafted in the second round out of Horizon High School in Arizona.  That season, he was recognized as an All-State player as he dominated opposing pitchers with his .494 average, 15 home runs and 36 RBI in 37 games played.

Upon making his professional debut the following year, the six-foot-one 215-pounder played with Class A Augusta of the South Atlantic League.  In 2010, with the GreenJackets, Joseph posted a .236 average with 16 homers and 68 RBI in 117 games.

In 2011, Joseph batted .270, while slamming 22 home runs and driving in 95 runs in 127 games for Class A Advanced San Jose. Over the off-season that followed, he was ranked as San Francisco’s 5th best prospect by MLB.com.

An All-Star in the Double-A Eastern League in 2012, the righty hitting Joseph tallied a .257 average with 11 home runs and 48 RBI in 108 games between Richmond and Reading.  Joseph spent a month following the 2012 regular season playing in the Arizona Fall League, where he sported a .204 average with one double and five RBI in 14 games played.

Overall, Joseph, who admired All-Star catchers Mike Piazza and Jorge Posada as a child, is an aggressive batter that can really drive the ball.  Having displayed impressive pop at multiple levels, Joseph entered last year with promising power potential.

The 2013 season was a tough one for Joseph, who experienced the third concussion of his career, which kept him out of action for a considerable amount of time.  The 22-year-old, who began last season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and was sidelined after 21 games.  After some time on the shelf, Joseph played several rehab games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers before returning to Double-A Reading in early July.  The return didn’t last long, as further complications from his concussion and a reported shin issue kept Joseph, who batted .179 with four doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI in 36 combined games, out of action for the remainder of the regular season.

This off-season in nine games with the Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League, Joseph batted .192 with two doubles and two RBI while striking out 10 times without a walk.  His DR League numbers aren’t nearly impressive, but there’s certainly a silver lining coming out of Joseph’s time there, as Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan has stated in recent weeks that the youngster held up under the pounding behind the plate there, taking some mask and helmet impacts with no setbacks or lasting effects.

Defensively, Joseph, who possesses a top notch work ethic that his coaches and team officials love, is strong behind the dish and is capable of leading a pitching staff.  He also has a solid ability to keep the opposition’s running game under control with his arm.

Joseph’s skills behind the plate could be what keeps him in the big leagues, should his bat be the main tool that gets him there.  However, the possibility of changing positions, likely to first base, would be considered if ever concussion issues return for the Arizona native.

On the bases, Joseph runs as a catcher would be expected to and will never be a true stolen base threat.

Joseph should see a fair amount of reps in big league spring training this year, but is probably a lock to begin this 2014 campaign back with the IronPigs once again.



  1. Double Trouble Del

    February 1, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Thanks for the update Jay. It’s good to hear that from a health perspective Mr. Joseph is improving.

  2. kramskorner

    February 1, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I like Tommy Joseph a lot, but I don’t see him starting with the IronPigs. He hit only .209 here overe 21 games last season and yielded 9 passed balls. Currently he’ll be blocked by Cameron Rupp and Lou Marson. He’s certainly a candidate to move up during the season, but he’ll likely start in Reading where he can get regular playing time during the first half of the season.

  3. Jay Floyd

    February 1, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for pointing that out Kram.

    If Joseph comes out in ST and proves himself healthy and capable, I wouldn’t put it past the Phillies to start Rupp back in AA instead. Or Marson becomes expendable once Joseph is proven healthy. Either of those scenarios- not likely, but possible.

    After thinking it over, saying TJ is “a lock” to begin the season with Lehigh is not right. A lock to get there again this season is more what I would go for.

    We know the Phils love to have a 28-34 year old backstop ready to go at all times and Marson is certainly that guy. We’ve seen a need for a 3rd and 4th big league catcher in recent years, so expect at least a couple of Rupp, Marson, Joseph, Valle to get some times with the Phillies this year, if they hang around.

  4. J.L.

    February 1, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I really want this guy to be our future catcher. He’s gonna be a great….

    • c. schreiber

      February 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Great!!!! Really??? What numbers make you THINK that??

      • J.L.

        February 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm

        His offensive numbers in few seasons dummy. Shows more promise than Rupp and nieves and im sick of all te trade busts we accumulated for pence and all the others amaro got and let go. Lucky e got Lee back and even got marson back. Hate on!

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