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On Corban Joseph's Plate Progression

Imagine being an infielder in the Yankees system. Alex Rodriguez seems destined for the DH role sooner rather than later, so the opportunity is certainly there. Derek Jeter has to retire eventually, right? If Mark Teixeira is afraid of invisible people he might have a reason to be concerned. Then remember you're in the Yankees system, none of this is real and return to your day.

As dire as any of those scenarios sound, imagine being a second baseman. Play quality baseball, move up through the system, showing improvements at each stop, and end up in a position where you're basically spinning your wheels behind a young second baseman on the verge of a long-term contract. Oh, and that guy happens to be the best second baseman in baseball. Making the major leagues is difficult enough for most players, but trying to unseat the top of the heap is more or less a Sisyphean task. The adjective Sisyphean has made its way into a baseball post.

He probably isn't the best second baseman in the system, and you probably wouldn't get much of an argument that he is, but Corban Joseph stands as the de facto next in line guy to Robinson Cano; if you're going simply by level, at least. David Adams has the clear advantage of being on the 40-man roster, but injuries have largely derailed his path. He could presumably make the jump if the worst happened, but would you really want that? Given his injury history, a jump that size is worrying, even if it is metaphorical.

Joseph may not be the best, but he's certainly turned some heads this year. A breakout season will have that effect. Given the chance to leap his Trenton counterpart, he's taken full advantage, thanks in large part to a surprising boost in power. He won't replace Cano; no one can, but the new found power has made him an interesting asset.

Patience. Something we lose too quickly and not quickly enough, a virtue, a power ballad, something fans desperately need and something players need slightly more. When we give the players our patience, even if it is to a fault sometimes, they occasionally return the favor. If you're a follower of Joseph waiting on him to take the next step as a player, he's returned your patience with patience of his own. And home runs. It all ties together.

2011 (AA) 0.277 0.353 0.415 1.76 1.01 17%
2012 (AA/AAA) 0.282 0.381 0.454 1.05 0.78 20%


Amazing what a little selectivity at the plate will do. Cutting down on the bad swings, if only by about one percent from last year, is giving Joseph better pitches to hit. Something he's taken full advantage of thus far. In roughly half a season in Triple-A, he has largely been able to keep up the play that earned him the promotion in the first place. While the average and on-base numbers are no doubt aided by a great start in Trenton (.314/.412/.430), it's the power numbers that have emerged at the next level.

He isn't a power hitter in the traditional sense, but he could certainly be tagged with the 'pop' label. More of a slap hitter that can stretch cut-off gap shots into doubles, Joseph has developed a seemingly new ability to take the ball over the fence. He's already parked five home runs since his promotion, tacked on to the two he hit in Trenton. The ball has been jumping off his bat this season, thanks in large part to that patience thing. Bad or borderline pitches are resulting in takes, ground balls are turning into deep flys and liners, and his home run and slugging numbers have reaped the benefits. Joseph has adjusted to the level change nicely; now pitchers must do the same or risk him taking mistakes to and over the wall.

It's a good sign that his bat has progressed as it's likely his only ticket to the pros. The defense is not good, and that's probably being nice. If it came to pass that the worst happened to Cano, that downside might be worth the offensive trade-off. There would be bigger things to worry about than Joseph's glove in that case. Like Cano being hurt. That's a more worrying thing. Maybe Joseph has sacrificed his defense so that Cano can stay healthy. Keep up the good work, Corban.