Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better Know a Prospect: Corban Joseph

Corban Joseph
Born: 28 October 1988 in Franklin, Tennessee
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Height/Weight: 6'0"/168 pounds
Acquired: 2008, 4th Round MLB Amateur Draft

2010 Stats
Tampa - .302/.378/.436, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 5 SB (8 CS)
Trenton - .216/.305/.342, 6 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 1 SB (0 CS)

Corban Joseph is a prospect that has interested me from the moment the Yankees drafted him, as I had never before heard of a high school player spending hours pouring over video in order to make adjustments at the plate. While I cannot say with any level of certainty that Joseph is unique in this regard, I was impressed nonetheless. In scrounging up information on Joseph's first three seasons of professional ball, there have been two commonalities, the first of which is his hours spent analyzing his own performance and making adjustments from the video room. The other? His tremendous line-drive stroke.

Prior to hitting a bump in the road with the Thunder, Joseph performed quite well while advancing through the system. In addition to garnering attention for high line-drive rates (between 19 and 22%), Joseph showcased solid contact skills, striking out in about 17% of his plate appearances (while maintaining an impressive walk rate over 10%). Despite a poor stolen base success rate, Joseph is an average baserunner with enough speed to improve with experience. The main issue here is his lack of power, as few expect him to develop into a player that can consistently reach even double-digits. As a second baseman, this may not be an issue - particularly if he can continue to bat around .300, draw walks, and drive the ball into the gaps. However, that raises the question of whether or not his fate lay elsewhere.

Based upon both scouting and defensive metrics, Joseph has been a below average second baseman. His arm strength and athleticism are rarely questioned, but his reaction times and first step have not shown much improvement over his professional career. There exists a fairly popular sentiment that he could become a passable second baseman with continued work, but most seem to believe his future lies at the third. While both the scouts and the numbers indicate that Joseph is a decent third baseman, his lack of power could significantly lower his ceiling here.

Despite Joseph's shortcomings, I cannot help but view him as a solid prospect. He reminds me a great deal of Michael Young who, while never really being a top flight player, has been a consistent contributor to the Rangers for the better part of a decade. I also believe that his floor is considerably higher than many other prospects in the system (such as Melky Mesa), as his offensive skill set and work ethic are indicative of future success. In the end, that may be the best sort of praise that can be tendered to a prospect.

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