Tuesday night's Eastern League All-Star Game Home Run Derby was a chance at redemption for Bowie's Caleb Joseph.
The 27-year-old Orioles catching prospect had participated in one Derby prior to Tuesday -- in 2008 at the New York-Penn League midsummer classic. The right-hander's performance was, in his own words, "hilarious."
"I think I hit one ball out of the infield, and I think that one was about 60 feet foul," Joseph said.
Tuesday's Derby was a more fruitful experience. The Baysox catcher mashed four homers and notched 310 points, narrowly edging Harrisburg's Steven Souza Jr., to take home the 2013 Eastern League Home Run Derby title at New Britain Stadium.
The 2008 Derby experience was key for Joseph Tuesday.
"I was at the All-Star Game, and the guy who was going to be in it got hurt the day before," he said. "They sort of randomly selected me. I wasn't even really a power hitter then.
"I was terrible. I was swinging way too hard, trying too hard, just trying to hit it to the moon. I learned pretty quickly after that that, you know, you're going to have some jitters and be really excited. You have to calm that down and try to just make contact. Try to be nice and easy, just step in the bucket and go for the shot down the line."
Joseph entered the event with 15 homers, which tied him for second in the Eastern League with fellow Derby competitors Jim Murphy (Reading) and Cesar Puello (Binghamton). Joseph was one of the first competitors to hit, and he set a high bar.
The Senators' center fielder Souza, was the final hitter and the Nationals prospect took a run at Joseph's 310-point performance. The hitters earned points by surpassing targets that earned 10, 20 or 30 points for various distances in the outfield and 50 for each home run. Souza took his final swing trailing by 40, and he mashed a ball into center field.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't saying, 'Please pop it up,'" Joseph said. "I batted really early on, so I was waiting for a long time, and the more I waited, the more I was thinking that I really wanted to win this."
Joseph said he varied his swing a little from his usual in-game approach, but added it wasn't much of a stretch from what he does in batting practice every day. While most of his pregame hitting is a structured routine, Joseph said he usually reverts to a homer-heavy swing for his final cuts.
"I think everybody would be lying if they didn't say, hitter-wise, that in their last 10-15 swings or the last round of [batting practice] every day ... that they weren't trying to go yard a little," Joseph said. "I've been doing that for five or six years and even going back to when I was 12 years old, trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark."
Beyond the trophy and bragging rights, Joseph also received a $100 gift card to Dunkin Donuts. The marketing pitch couldn't have worked out better for the breakfast food chain -- Joseph is a regular customer and stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for breakfast on his way to the park Tuesday.
"Who knows, maybe it was meant to be?" Joseph said with a laugh. "I'm from the South. There's a ton of Dunkin Donuts up here, but we have more Krispy Kremes and Starbucks as far as the big breakfast food-type of places. I do enjoy Dunkin Donuts, though. When I see one, like near a hotel on the road, I always enjoy going out there.
"That was a great little surprise for me. It's going to help me save some meal money on the road."