When catcher Caleb Joseph went home after this season, he had time to think about his play at Double-A Bowie this year.
The O’s seventh-round pick out of Lipscomb University in 2008, he hit .235-11-51 in 106 Baysox games. He called it a “terrible year.” It came a season after he hit .284 with Frederick and was among the O’s top ten prospects on some lists.
“I wasn’t getting the job done offensively and felt I was very average defensively. I’ve never struggled like that in my life and had no idea had to deal with it. I went home and thought a lot about the whole season and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. You have to learn to deal with failure in this game,” he said.
Joseph is now with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. As a taxi squad player, he plays in games just two days a week and that has given him time to work on other aspects of his game on the off days.
He said he has made some long overdue adjustments to his swing and so far, they are paying off. He is 12 for 27 with a homer and 5 RBI. That’s a .444 average and OPS of 1.109 in eight games.
“All of these adjustments are things that (O’s hitting coach) Denny Walling has been telling me over and over. I’d try it, but I was just inconsistent with it. Something about being down here, it just clicked.
“There are only so many swings you can take before the game during the season, you don’t want to wear yourself out for the game. Being down here has been the perfect formula that I’ve been able to put into place here. It’s almost been like an instructional league for me.
“I’ve been able to get so many reps, that it’s become more consistent. It is not anything that hasn’t been told to me before.”
Joseph said he can put in a lot of extra work on his hitting and catching knowing that four days a week he is not scheduled to play as a taxi squad player.
Upon reporting to Arizona, Joseph got in some extra work with Scottsdale’s hitting coach, Alan Zinter, who coached for the Diamondbacks at Visalia last season.
“I mentioned to him that people feel I have a loop in my swing. We came to the conclusion that my contact point was just too far out, I wasn’t letting the ball get deep enough.
“Something clicked right away with what he was saying. Now I have this load that allows me to stay back and allow the ball to get deeper. I always had trouble hitting the ball to right field and with this change, it came more natural. I’ve hit some balls to right I’ve never hit before.
“It’s very exciting when you know what it should look like, but you’ve never seen it. Then you see yourself on video. It’s very encouraging.”
Over his last three Fall League games, Joseph has seven hits with a homer and double and three multi-hit games.
Joseph was somewhat down on himself late this season, he admits that. But when he found out the O’s wanted him to go to Arizona, he said that gave him a needed boost.
“It was a huge honor to be invited, especially after a disappointing season. The Orioles sending me here, even as a taxi squad guy, meant they still believe in me.
“That’s what I needed. I wasn’t thinking about being released, but I realize I’m not a huge draft pick, I’m a fringe prospect.
“This has been one of the most fun teams I’ve ever played on, a lot of different personalities that have meshed perfectly and I feel like our record indicates that. Without a doubt, to this point, the best experience I’ve had in baseball,” Joseph said.
Coming later: Joseph talks about some changes he has made on defense.