07/08/12 7:58 PM ET
Joseph has solid day in Futures Game
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Joseph, the Giants' catcher at Double-A Richmond, played the first four innings for the U.S. team, which toppled the World squad, 17-5, at Kauffman Stadium. Eight days short of his 21st birthday, Joseph flashed the offensive skill that has made him a leading Giants prospect by making the most of his two plate appearances, drawing a key walk and lining a tiebreaking RBI double. Moreover, he also demonstrated his improved defensive prowess by throwing out an eager World baserunner."It was fun," said Joseph, rated the Giants' No. 5 prospect by MLB.com. "I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I was going to be. Once the game started, it kind of slowed down a little bit." Fittingly, Joseph began his sequence of feats against a Dodgers farmhand, left-hander Chris Reed, who walked him on four pitches with one out in the third inning. Joseph opened the scoring for the U.S. in a four-run rally that erased the World's 4-0 advantage. En route to crossing home, Joseph displayed admirable aggressiveness by scooting from first base to third on Anthony Gose's single. He took the extra base even though Oscar Taveras fielded Gose's hit in relatively shallow right field. "That never happens," Joseph said. "I never do it. I don't remember the last time I did. I was running straight to second and looking back. I was going to try to break up the double play. I saw the ball get through and I was like, 'Here we go.'" Joseph shifted his attention to defense in the top of the fourth. With Jean Segura batting, a pitch from right-hander Dylan Bundy bounced away from Joseph. Jesus Aguilar tried to advance from second to third, but Joseph retired him with a low, accurate throw. The play conceivably saved a run, because Segura singled. This reflected Joseph's progress behind the plate during his three seasons in the Giants organization.
"I knew I had to [improve]," he said. "I was pretty much drafted as a hitter and they hoped my defense would kind of come along. I think I've done a fairly good job up to now, but I have to keep working hard."Joseph was the central figure in the two-run, fourth-inning uprising that gave the U.S. a 6-4 lead. Facing Tampa Bay prospect Felipe Rivero, another left-hander, Joseph fell behind on the count 0-2 and worked the count to 2-2 before ricocheting a fastball high off the right-field fence. Jonathan Singleton scored on the play and so did Nick Castellanos after Taveras' throw went awry for an error. Joseph caught a different pitcher per inning during his stint. The list read like a Who's Who of future stars: Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen and Bundy, the first, second and fourth selections overall in last year's First-Year Player Draft. Joseph also worked with Royals farmhand Jake Odorizzi, who received the distinction of starting before a "hometown" crowd. "It was cool to share that with him," Joseph said.
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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.