Thomas Richard Joseph
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 215 lb.
- High School Horizon High School
- Debut May 13, 2016
- Final Game September 30, 2017
- Born July 16, 1991 in Phoenix, AZ USA
Tommy Joseph entered 2012 as a top prospect of the San Francisco Giants, but had to wait until 2016 and change positions before getting the call to the majors.
Joseph hit .491 with 15 home runs and 36 RBI in 37 games as a high school senior, winning All-State honors. He was picked by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft, their second pick after Zack Wheeler. Steven Baron was the only high school catcher taken higher that year. The scout was Hugh Walker. He signed for a $712,500 bonus. He was rated by Baseball America as the 6th-best prospect in the Giants chain entering 2010. In his pro debut, he had 3 hits and 5 RBI for the Augusta Greenjackets. For the '10 campaign, he hit .236/.290/.401 for Augusta, with 16 home runs, 26 walks and 116 strikeouts. He had 19 passed balls in 65 games at catcher, also playing 1B and DH. He led the South Atlantic League in passed balls despite his relatively limited time there. Baseball America downgraded him to the Giants' #10 prospect.
In 2011, Tommy was more productive, playing for the San Jose Giants. He produced at a .270/.317/.471 clip with 33 doubles, 22 homers, 80 runs, 95 RBI, 29 walks and 102 strikeouts. He was 6 for 17 in two home runs and 8 RBI in four playoff games. He cut his passed ball rate (13 in 91 G) and threw out 37% of attempted base-stealers, fielding .992. He tied Kole Calhoun, Kody Hinze and Nathan Freiman for 6th in the California League in dingers and tied Kent Matthes for 7th in RBI. He also led the league in fielding percentage at catcher. He was named the league's All-Star catcher. Baseball America listed him as the 11th-best Cal League prospect, between fellow backstop Yasmani Grandal and Nick Franklin. They also listed him as the best defensive catcher in the loop. Entering 2012, they tabbed him as San Fran's #2 prospect after Gary Brown.
Joseph's stats were down to open 2012 with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (.252/.296/.370, 5 HR, 24 RBI in 63 G), but he had thrown out over half of opposing base thieves. He still started for the US in the 2012 Futures Game during their 17-5 romp over the World club. Hitting 8th, he first came to bat in the third against Chris Reed. He drew a walk from Reed and wound up scoring on a triple by Billy Hamilton to begin the US comeback from a 4-0 deficit. He doubled in Jonathan Singleton in the 4th, facing Felipe Rivero, to put the US ahead, 5-4. No one tried to steal against him. He was replaced at catcher by Rob Brantly. While he had a case for the MVP, it went to Nick Castellanos instead. By the end of July, he had picked up his numbers somewhat, to .260/.313/.391 with 38 RBI in 80 games. On July 31st, he was one of three players sent to the Philadelphia Phillies at the trading deadline in order to obtain OF Hunter Pence. He joined Nate Schierholtz and P Seth Rosin in heading to the city of brotherly love.
However, Joseph's career hit a number of bumps after joining the Phillies, particularly because of concussions which led to vision problems, left wrist surgery in 2014, and a change of position to first base. He was dropped from the 40-man roster after the 2015 season, but sailed through the 2015 Rule V Draft unclaimed and was back in the Phillies minor league system at the start of 2016. With the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he hit a scorching .347 in 27 games with 7 doubles and 6 homers to earn the long-awaited call to the Show to replace Darin Ruf. He made his debut starting at first base on May 13th, going 0 for with a walk and scoring a run in a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He had limited opportunities to play at first, because veteran Ryan Howard was entrenched at the position and had a huge contract. He hit his first homer on May 17th, a solo shot off Wei-Yin Chen of the Miami Marlins part of a 3-for-4 day in a 3-1 Phillies win, and he continued to hit well whenever he had the opportunity to start. With Howard hitting an awful .150 in spite of 9 homers, manager Pete Mackanin decided on June 10th to give the starting job to Joseph, who responded by hitting a pair of homer off Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg that day, for his first multi-homer game. He had hit 7 homers in his first 21 games, something no other Phillies player had ever done. On July 8th, he hit a three-run homer as a pinch-hitter to give the Phils a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, then followed that the next day with his first career four-hit game, including another homer, this time in a losing cause. He ended up hitting .257 in 107 games with 21 homers and 47 RBIs and was named the first baseman on the 2016 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
Joseph's production fell off in 2017 however. He did hit 27 doubles and 22 homers in 142 games, but his batting average fell to .240 and his OBP to a terrible .289 (it have been at .308, poor but not quite awful, in 2016). As a result his OPS+ took a dive as well, from 113 to 89, making him well below average for his position. The Phillies decided to look to improve their offense after the season and signed 1B Carlos Santana to a large multi-year contract, greatly reducing the potential playing time for Tommy, a problem which was compounded with the emergence of Rhys Hoskins in the second half of the 2017 season. Hoskins had already cost Joseph some playing time during the final two months, and he could fill any back-up needs the Phillies could have at the position going forward as well. On March 12, 2018, after the Phils signed free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta and needed to clear a spot for him on their major league roster, Joseph was the fall guy, being designated for assignment. The Texas Rangers signed him a week later and he spent the 2018 season in their minor league system. Joseph concluded his professional career in 2019 by playing part of the season in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization.
- 2016 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2016 & 2017)
- Meghan Montemurro: "Phillies' Joseph overcomes injuries to reach majors", The Wilmington News Journal, May 14, 2016.