EL notes: Giants' Joseph getting a jolt

Flying Squirrels catcher adjusts to new level, environment

By David Driver / Special to MLB.com | April 17, 2012 6:31 AM ET

Tommy Joseph grew up in Arizona and played last season for San Jose in the Class A Advanced California League. So it came as a bit of a shock to his system when he opened the 2012 campaign on the East Coast.

"I have never been this cold in my life," said Joseph, standing outside the Richmond clubhouse on a chilly night in Bowie, Md.

Joseph's bat has also been cold in the early days of the season with an average of .143 in 28 at-bats, but Richmond manager Dave Machemer hardly seems concerned.

"He has a real quiet approach at the plate. There is not a lot of movement," Machemer said. "When he is on, he makes solid contact. He can hit the ball out of any ballpark."

"He had some good games at the big league level in Spring Training," Machemer added. "We feel he can compete one day at that level."

Joseph, while with the parent Giants, hit two homers in a split-squad game against the Brewers back on March 10.

Drafted in the second round out of Scottsdale High School in 2009, Joseph hit .270/.317/.471 with 22 homers, 33 doubles and 95 RBIs in 127 games with San Jose last year. He began this year as the No. 5 prospect in the Giants system, according to MLB.com.

Joseph, at age 20, was the youngest player on the Flying Squirrels' roster by at least two years when the season opened. He is the top catching prospect in the San Francisco system but has also played first base in the Minor Leagues.

"I would much rather be a catcher, but if the Giants want me to play first base I will do that," Joseph said. "I am always willing to do whatever to help the Richmond team. I will do whatever they ask me to do."

Joseph hit .236 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in his pro debut with Augusta in the Class A South Atlantic League in 2010. He showed improvement offensively and defensively last year.

"He improved tremendously behind the plate with San Jose," Machemer said. "We feel [catcher] is a place we should keep him."

During Spring Training this year Joseph got to spend some time with San Francisco backstop Buster Posey, who missed most of last season with an injury.

"He is an awesome guy. He is all about work ethic and getting the job done," Joseph said. "He is going to be in the big leagues for a long time."

Joseph was in the San Jose clubhouse at Bakersfield last May 25 when he watched the replay of Posey's lower left leg injury, suffered in a collision with Scott Cousins of the Marlins in a play at the plate.

"It was an unfortunate thing. You don't want to see one of the big faces in baseball go down like that. I hated to see that. I felt bad for Buster," Joseph said.

Joseph was bothered with some arm issues early this season and was used solely as a designated hitter in his first few games. He was behind the plate for the first time on Sunday and picked up his first extra-base hit, a double, as Richmond won at home, 3-1, over Altoona.

In brief

Quick start for Richardson: One of the most interesting players on the Opening Day roster for Bowie was Antoan Richardson, 28, who was drafted by the Giants in the 35th round in 2005. He made his big league debut with the Braves on Sept. 4, 2011, and was signed by the Orioles in December. Richardson is an outfielder who grew up in the Bahamas and moved to Florida when he was 14 to attend high school. "That is how I got introduced to the game," said Richardson, who was batting .385 through Sunday.

Trying to repeat: New Hampshire won the EL title last season, but the Fisher Cats are off to a 3-7 start this year after many top prospects were promoted to Las Vegas. The starting rotation includes former first-round draftees Deck McGuire and Brett Cecil, who has made 65 big league starts with Toronto. But both have struggled early on. McGuire was 0-2 with 9.90 ERA in his first two starts, while Cecil was 0-2, 6.94 after giving up five earned runs in five innings Saturday in a 7-6 loss to New Britain.

Fast start for Rock Cats: New Britain improved to 8-3 with its fourth straight win Sunday, 3-0 at New Hampshire. Aaron Hicks hit three homers in his first 11 games for the Rock Cats and Pedro Florimon, a former Bowie shortstop, was hitting .316 in his first 38 at-bats.

David Driver is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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