Aberdeen, Fredrick, Bowie, Bowie, Bowie, and Bowie again, all fine Maryland cities but likely not the ideal places a 20-something young man would plan to spend six summers. That’s the road traveled by Oriole rookie catcher Caleb Joseph and that’s why his smashing success with the Orioles is one of Baltimore’s best stories in the summer of ‘14.
In his first six seasons in professional baseball Joseph only played 22 games above Double A ball. You’d think somewhere in there, may be the third or fourth year still in Bowie, he might have thought maybe it’s time to get a real job. It’s hard to pay the bills on minor league money, a couple of thousand dollars a month for a 5-6 month season doesn’t go far.
In the off-season Caleb would return home to Tennessee and cut grass to make ends meet. Thursday night the grass-cutter homered for the 4th consecutive game accounting for both runs in a key 2-1 Orioles win over the second place Blue Jays in Toronto.
Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, and Manny Machado were special rookies but none of them homered in 4 straight games as a rookie. Caleb Joseph is only the second rookie in Orioles history to homer in 4 straight games. The Orioles have won 6 straight series they lead the American League East by 5 games and Caleb Joseph, the 28-year old rookie, is right in the middle of it.
When all-star catcher Matt Wieters was lost to season-ending elbow surgery it could have been a crippling blow for the O’s, Wieters was off to a hot start with the bat and his work behind the plate is among the best in baseball. Could Dan Duquette make a trade and find an upgrade from what the system offered. They made a minor move and added veteran depth in Nick Hundley but they had their guy all along, Joseph has been an Oriole since they drafted him in the 7th round in the summer of 2008.
We all dig the long ball but talk to Buck Showalter and he’d rather talk about Caleb the catcher. The word on Joseph was he might have a big-league bat but the defense was questionable. So much for the scouting report, Joseph’s been handling a pitching staff that’s exceeded most expectations.
The starters have been rock solid and the bullpen is lights out. Try to run on Caleb Joseph and there’s about a 50/50 chance you’ll be jogging back to the dugout. He’s thrown out nearly 50% of base runners that’s best in the American League with only one other catcher above 35%.
Just getting to Baltimore was a dream come true for the Orioles catcher. This might be a summer to remember for Orioles fans it’s one Caleb Joseph will never forget.
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