In Matt Wieters the Orioles already have their starting catcher for the next 5 years, but also have what looks to be their backup catcher in Caleb Joseph. The Libscomb University product was drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 MLB draft and signed for $125,000.
Joseph has always showed potential at the plate, but it’s his defense that has progressed and turned him into a legitimate catching prospect. His blocking and footwork have been smoothed out over the years and is now an average defender behind the dish. He has good agility behind the plate and an average arm which will limit his defensive potential going forward. If his bat gets to the point where you want him in the lineup more often, he’s athletic enough to play 1B, or even the outfield in a pinch.
He’s a disciplined hitter who makes consistent contact and can really work the count. His low batting average in 2010 was largely a result of his batting average on balls in play. His line drive rate was actually higher in 2010 than it was in 2009, yet in 2009 he posted a batting average 49 points higher. If Joseph’s batting average on balls inplay returns to its normal levels in 2011, we should see the guy we saw in Frederick.
He’s a good bet to become at least a backup catcher, and quite possibly a starter, but he’ll have to do that somewhere else with Matt Wieters behind the plate. There’s a good chance Joseph jumps to Norfolk in 2011, but there’s also a chance he’ll remain at Bowie for a do over. Either way, he’ll be out to prove 2010 was just a fluke and he’s the .284 hitter we saw at Frederick.