Blogs / Features
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Ex-Horizon star right at home in Arizona Fall LeagueOct 23, 2012
By Don Ketchum
Aaahhh, home sweet home.
Doesn’t it feel good to sleep in your own bed, Tommy Joseph?
Indeed it does.
That is one of the extra benefits for Joseph, the former star catcher for Phoenix Horizon, as he plays for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
The AFL features some of the top prospects in Major League Baseball, who have come together in a six-team, two-division format that began play the first week of October and continues until Nov. 17 at spring-training parks around the Valley.
“It is great to stay at home, and the privilege of playing baseball in this league is even better,’’ said the 21-year-old Joseph.
Joseph was part of two state-championship teams and two state runners-up under coach Eric Kibler at Horizon. Shortly after he graduated in 2009, Joseph was the second-round pick (55th overall) of the San Francisco Giants in the annual First-Year Player Draft.
He now is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization after they acquired him just before the July 31 trading deadline as part of a deal that sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the Giants.
Joseph was making significant strides in the Giants’ Minor League system and played for the U.S. Team in the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City, just prior to the Major League All-Star Game. Joseph drew a walk and hit a run-scoring double in the U.S.’ 17-5 win over the World Team.
Then the trade hit.
Joseph admitted he was “a little bit shocked. I didn’t really see it coming, although I had heard my name floating around (as a trade possibility).’’
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Joseph tried to make the best of it, hitting .250 with the Double-A affiliate in Reading (Pa.), with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 28 games. His manager in Reading was Dusty Wathan, who just happens to be the Peoria Javelinas’ manager.
Joseph is sharing time with two other catchers, but he is confident that Wathan, who was a minor-league catcher and son of longtime former Kansas City Royals catcher John Wathan, will give him the work he needs.
“He (Dusty Wathan) has had my back from Day One,’’ Joseph said. “He has been a great guy to learn from, grew up in a baseball family. If anybody knows what he’s doing, he does.’’
The relationship with Kibler and the Horizon coaches runs even deeper.
“We won two state championships and had two runners-up while I was there, and that’s where I learned how to win, how to play,’’ Joseph said. “It was a great environment. I really believe that the coaches there are among the best high school coaches in the country.’’
It’s been a great ride so far for the man who as a young kid started catching, “due to the luck of the draw,’’ in his words.
“I definitely learned to love it,’’ he said. “You can’t take any pitches off. You have to keep your head in the game, know what’s going on at all times.’’
Another former Horizon player, right-handed pitcher Kevin Rhoderick (Chicago Cubs) is in the Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Other former Arizona prep players this year are right-handed pitcher Tim Crabbe (Cincinnati Reds/Peoria) of Tucson Sabino, infielder Stefen Romero (Seattle Mariners/Peoria) of Tucson Sunnyside, outfielder Khris Davis (Milwaukee Brewers/Phoenix) of Glendale Deer Valley, catcher Carlos Ramirez (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Scottsdale) of Sunnyside, and infielder Alex Sogard (Houston Astros/Mesa) of Phoenix Thunderbird.