It has been a little over a week since the Orioles decided to place Caleb Joseph on the 25-man roster as the backup catcher. It has been a long road to the majors for Joseph, which has made for quite the story. Along that road, he has answered countless questions about his ability, whether it be with the bat or glove. I wrote a scouting report on Joseph when he was first called up, and I thought it would be interesting to see how that report stands now that Joseph has seen some time in the bigs. I want to look mainly at the defense, as that has been the main question at hand.
In the report linked above, I graded Joseph’s arm as 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale. I graded his defense as 30. Both grades are below-average to well below-average, indicating that I do not feel confident in Joseph’s ability to catch behind the plate. Of course, players can and do improve and it is not uncommon for evaluations to change as a player progresses. Has Joseph improved? Let’s take a look:
The following chart shows the typical grades for a catcher’s arm, thanks to Ethan Purser at Baseball Prospectus:
|Grade||Pop Time (in seconds)|
|40: Below Avg.||2.0-2.1|
|30: Well Below Avg.||2.1-2.2|
Let’s take a look at the May 13th game against Detroit. Joseph was 3/3 on throwing out attempted stolen-base threats. Below are some pop times (GIF included) from his three throws in this game:
Pop Time: 2.00
Delivery Time: 1.60
As we can see from above, a 2.00 pop time is rated as below-average, and usually the runner will have no trouble stealing a base if the pitcher delivery time is quick to home. Ubaldo Jimenez is not quick to home, as indicated by his 1.60 delivery time on this attempt (a good delivery time would be less than 1.40 to home plate typically).
Pop Time: 2.02
Delivery Time: 1.62
In this next throw, it is the same situation, with a below-average pop time and a dreadful delivery time. Luckily for Joseph and the Jimenez, it was Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera attempting to steal these bases. Obviously, both of them are known more for their bat and not their speed.
In this final attempt, it’s a different scenario. This was not a straight steal, and Torii Hunter broke on a secondary pitch that bounced in the dirt. What I want to point out is how Joseph has improved since last year. In 2013, Joseph’s feet were a tick slower behind the dish, and he was struggling to get in front of these pitches, block them, and set himself in a situation where he even had an attempt at throwing out the runner. As we can see, Joseph did everything right here and kept the ball in front of him so he had a play. It was a risky choice for Hunter to break on this, but credit Joseph for making the play.
I have been generally impressed with the game-calling and how Joseph is beginning to acclimate himself with the game at the highest level. While he still does not have a strong arm and has plenty to work on behind the plate, he has improved enough to give the O’s enough confidence to give him some starts while Wieters is on the DL. They may still look to upgrade at the position, but Joseph has at least helped plug the hole for the short-term.
Thanks to Camden Chat for their ever-useful GIF’s. Make sure to follow OriolesGIFs on twitter.