Phillies: What happened to prospect Tommy Joseph?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Tommy Joseph #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Oakland Athletics during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Tommy Joseph #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Oakland Athletics during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Tommy Joseph had a rough journey in the minors, but unseated a Philadelphia Phillies great in his first of two seasons in the majors.

Injury prone in his path to the majors, Tommy Joseph made waves at first, but ultimately was let go by the Philadelphia Phillies after only two seasons.

The Phoenix native was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2009 before being sent to the Phillies as part of a package for Hunter Pence in 2012.

Joining AA Reading mid-season, Joseph hit three HR, 10 RBI and .250/.327/.420 in 28 games and was listed as the Phillies’ third-best prospect in’s 2012 Prospect Watch.

The catcher was listed as the Phillies’ fifth-best prospect in MLB Pipeline’s 2013 Prospect Watch; his second year in the team’s farm system being his first with significant injury concern.

Joseph was promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley, where he hit three HR, 14 RBI and .209/.264/.358 in 21 games before being sidelined by a concussion in early May. He worked his way back up from high-A in June to AA in July, but was sidelined again, this time with a shin contusion in mid-July, the team deciding to give him the rest of the season off.

In 2014, Joseph improved his productivity at AA Reading, with five HR, 19 RBI and a .282/.345/.551 slash line in 21 games. However, injury struck again, a possible concussion sidelining him from late April to early May before a wrist sprain in mid-May and delayed return led to a season-ending wrist surgery in early August.

Joseph returned to Lehigh Valley for 2015, where his season was shortened by injury yet again. A concussion sidelined him from mid-May to mid-August, leading to a change in position from catcher to first base. He finished the season at AAA, with three HR, 18 RBI and a .193/.220/.301 slash line in 45 games overall.

Following the injuries and lack of productivity, Joseph was outrighted from the 40-man roster on October 19, but went unclaimed on waivers and remained with the Phillies organization. With an overall unimpressive and seemingly unlucky stretch in the minors, the new first baseman was about to turn things up.

Joseph hit six HR, 17 RBI and .347/.370/.611 in his first 27 games with Lehigh Valley in 2016, earning a promotion to the majors as the Phillies looked for a line-up change with a slumping Ryan Howard.

Joseph made his MLB debut on May 13, getting off to a strong start in his first month. In a June 10 game against the Washington Nationals, he hit a pair of two-run home runs to become the fastest Phillie to seven home runs, with those homers and a .323 batting average through his first 21 games. That performance followed a pre-game decision to promote him to the starting first baseman spot over Howard.

While his quick start was impressive, he posted solid numbers overall, with 21 HR, 47 RBI and a .257/.308/.505 slash line in 107 games. While he earned the starting first base position, he also had a highlight moment off the bench, with a three-run pinch hitting home run in the seventh inning on July 8, which led the Phillies to a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

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Joseph held onto the starting role for 2017, where he got off to a slow start before entering a bit of a hot streak from the beginning of May to early July, hitting 14 HR and 36 RBI in 61 games, with his batting average reaching a season-high .265 on May 19 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Overall, 2017 was a good year in the HR and RBI categories, but not the best with his averages. He hit 22 HR, 69 RBI and .240/.289/.432 in 142 games. With Rhys Hoskins having made his debut and ready for a full season in the majors, the numbers weren’t enough to keep Joseph at first base.

The Phillies gave Joseph time in the outfield early in 2018 spring training before designating him for assignment on March 12, where he was claimed by the Texas Rangers, who then designated him for assignment at the end of March.

Clearing waivers, Joseph started the season at the AA level before being promoted to the Rangers’ AAA Round Rock in mid-April. Continuing to play at first base, he had an impressive season of AAA, hitting 21 HR, 67 RBI and .284/.353/.549 in 84 games.

In November 2018, Joseph signed a one-year deal with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization, returning stateside in August 2019 to close out the season with the Boston Red Sox’ AA Portland, hitting five RBI with a .260 BA in 13 games.

Joseph signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox for this season, including an invitation to spring training, where he had two hits, both RBIs, in 15 at-bats before being re-assigned to minor league camp in early March.

While the career of Tommy Joseph has included plenty of injury and only two seasons in the majors, he can still say that he took the team by storm early in his first season, while being awarded a starting role over a former World Series winner in Ryan Howard.