Joseph was first acquired by the Phillies back in 2012 from the San Francisco Giants, along with Seth Rosin and Nate Schierholtz, for Hunter Pence. At the time, Joseph was a catcher and was considered one of the Giants best prospects.
Unfortunately, injuries hindered Joseph’s progress through the minors. From 2013 to 2015, Joseph only appeared in 130 games, not giving him much of a chance to improve his skills. Multiple concussions forced Joseph to move to first base.
Joseph was finally able to show his worth when he was called up to the majors in 2016. In 107 games for the Phillies, Joseph hit 21 home runs and 47 RBIs with a .257 average. He had similar production in 2017, when he hit 22 and 69 RBIs in 142 games, although his average dropped to .240.
Beyond his power, however, Joseph didn’t offer much. In his two seasons with the Phillies, Joseph totaled a -0.9 bWAR. Rhys Hoskins usurped Joseph from first base thanks to his torrid run near the end of the 2017 season. His fate was essentially sealed when the Phillies signed Carlos Santana to man first base while moving Hoskins to the outfield, leaving Joseph without a position.
Joseph was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers in March, after which he remained in the minors all season. At Triple-A, Joseph hit .284 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI in 91 games.
Now of 27 years of age, Joseph will look to turn his career around in Korea. Rebounds are not uncommon for players who go overseas. Eric Thames, a first baseman/outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, played for the NC Dinos from 2014 to 2016, and was an absolute sensation. He hit a total of 124 home runs and 382 home runs while batting above .321 in all three seasons (his highest was .381 in 2015).
Former Phillies first basemen Darin Ruf has also had success in Korea. After signing with the Samsung Lions, Ruf blew up in 2017 when he hit 31 home runs and 124 RBIs, along with a .315 batting average and 60 walks.
Even current Phillies manager Gabe Kapler had some experience playing foreign ball, playing for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan in 2005, albeit for 30 games, where he hit three home runs and six RBIs. Last spring, he spoke at length about why his stint in Japan wasn’t successful.
Pitchers also opt to travel abroad to play. Tyler Cloyd, who was in the Phillies organization from 2008 to 2013, playing for the Samsung Lions in 2015, where he went 11-11 with a 5.19 ERA in 28 games, all of which he started. He’s since returned to America, where he’s been a member of the Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins organizations.
It’s not just baseball players who have revived their careers in foreign countries either. Former BYU standout Jimmer Fredette failed to make an impact in the National Basketball Association, so he went and signed with the Shanghai Sharks. Since then, Fredette has made a name for himself again, as he recently scored 75 points in a game in mid-November and is averaging 38.3 points per game in his third season with the Sharks, as USA Today’s Steve Gardner pointed out. Fredette could very well make a return to the NBA, but at the same time, he’s reached a popularity that might be hard to gain back in the United States.
It’s a tough decision to play in another country. It’s a new culture, and many have trouble adjusting. Seeing family and friends would be made even harder, not to mention having to possibly move a family to another country.
At the same time, it’s a mesmerizing opportunity for a player who may be ordinary in the majors to be extraordinary in Japan or Korea. For Joseph, he just might be the next American player who will become a star. In a career that’s been full of bad luck, it might be just what he needs.
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