A farewell to Corban Joseph and a remembrance of how hard it is to make it

Mike Stobe

For one glorious day, Corban Joseph made it

After seven seasons in the Yankees system, Corban Joseph has been released from the organization that originally drafted him back in 2008. The release isn't that surprising, considering CoJo is eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the season. Releasing him now is probably doing him a favor, giving him a head start in trying to find a new employer, and he might have even asked for it.

Most guys don't get a shot in the majors before their professional careers come to an end. At least CoJo got his shot, however brief it was. Called up as the 26th man for a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians on May 13, 2013, he got his chance to show his worth, playing second and first and doing a little something offensively in his only two major league games:

That's a walk against Justin Masterson and a hit against Trevor Bauer, two brand names. Good for him. I remember watching these games and thinking that this was just the beginning, and while he certainly didn't have future All-Star in his scouting report, his ability to play multiple positions could have allowed him to etch out a nice living as a non-Eduardo Nunez utility player. And unlike Nunez, no one hated him.

Alas, it was not in his cards, as upon being sent back down to Triple-A the next day, CoJo played through the end of the month before a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season, and honestly, quite possibly his chance at a major league career. You see, he was coming off a career-year where the once offensively inept middle infielder put together an impressive .276/.375/.465, 15-home run 2012 season. He went on to hit a respectable .270/.355/.434 in the first month and a half of 2013, and though he was sent down after the two games, it seemed implied that he'd find his way back up sooner, rather than later. Then the injury happened and he was gone. Just like that.

He returned healthy again this season, but hit a career-worst .268/.320/.387 in his third year at Triple-A. Promotions and superior play from Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, and Kyle Roller squeezed him out of every position imaginable, leading him to rot on the bench for long periods of time before he was used again. Corban Joseph's career is a true example of an organization passing a player by. One moment he's a promising and useful player, the next he's kicked off the 40-man roster and used as Triple-A fodder as a new generation moves up a level.

Baseball is a different kind of employment; you don't get tenure, you don't get credit for sticking it out and sticking around. You either show promise or you don't, and that's all you have. Consider all the other one-hit wonders who came before; the Steve Garrisons and the Kevin Whelans. Still, Joseph is only 25 and another team will surely sign him, as the Indians signed David Adams (who was later claimed by the Orioles), and the Reds now have Brett Marshall. Neither has appeared in a major league game for their new teams since the Yankees let them go, though, so there's probably not too much hope left for him at this point. But even so, a job is a job is a job, and unless he has something else lined up, he'll be back next year to continue the grind and support his family the only way he knows how. Such is the life of a minor league baseball player.

With the loss of CoJo, only David Phelps, Jeremy Bleich, Kyle Higashioka, Pat Venditte, and Nik Turley remain of the Yankees' 2008 draft class. If they managed to sign Gerrit Cole back then, maybe it would look like a more successful draft, but as it is, right now, it's looking pretty bad. Phelps might be the only thing the Yankees ever get out of that year, but at least they got something positive from Corban Joseph, even if it was just one hit on one spring day.

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