Corban Joseph, 22, is a lefty hitting second baseman who is listed at 6-0 and 168-pounds. Born in Franklin, Tennessee, he attended Franklin High School where he was named the state’s high school player of the year. He had a commitment to the University of Kentucky when the Yankees drafted him in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. His signing bonus was $207,000.
Joseph started his pro career after signing in 2008 with the Gulf Coast League (Rookie-Ball) Yankees. He started out poorly hitting just .114 over his first 13 games, but picked that up by hitting .354 in the month of July. A toe injury slowed him down in the month of August and he finished with a batting average of .277 and an OPS of .793 at the end of the season.
Joseph was promoted to Low-A Charleston in 2009. Over 100 games there he hit .300 with a .381 OBP and a .799 OPS. At this point he was making a name for himself as a prospect due to his high batting average, power potential, and patience at the plate.
In 2010 he started the year with the High-A Tampa Yankees. In 98 games there he hit .302 with an .814 OPS. He finally started showing some power too picking up 27 doubles, three triples. and six homers.
That earned him a late season promotion to Double-A Trenton. He played just 31 games in Trenton and struggled. His average dropped to .216 and his OPS to .647. He season ended early with a broken hand that could have contributed to his poor numbers.
Outside of Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez, Joseph may be the best hitter in the Yankees organization. He has a quick short swing that shows the ability to make him a .300 hitter. He is patient at the plate as well. Right now he has only developed gap power, but scouts have mentioned that he still may learn to develop more power as he gets older and fills out a bit more.
Joseph is an average runner. In three seasons in the minor leagues he has 16 stolen bases and has been caught 18 times so he’s definitely not a burner. He isn’t exactly slow either though.
Joseph certain is no liability defensively, but he’s not a star either. Early in his career many compared him to Chase Utley because he was a second baseman with a good stick, but a weak glove. He has worked hard to improve himself defensively and has made modest gains, but ultimately he might not stick at second base. He does have 43 games experience at third base at this point and it is possible he could get more in the future.
Joseph has a pretty decent ceiling here. If he can continue to improve his defense and stick at second base he can be pretty special. He definitely has potential to be a .300 hitter and with the patience he shows at the plate a perennial .380 OBP is not out of the picture. That would be pretty great production to get out of a second baseman.
Joseph is still young enough that 2011 is not a make or break season, but it is an important one. He needs to bounce back from his hand injury, prove he’s healthy, and show that he can continue to improve along with the competition. His best tool has always been his hitting ability, if that falls behind so will he.
Right now there looks to be almost no chance that we’ll see him in the Bronx in 2011. It looks like he’s on track for a full season in Double-A and possibly another full season in Triple-A in 2012. 2013 seems to be a reasonable time frame for him to get to the Bronx.