Corban Joseph learning from mentors

07/11/2012 12:06 PM ET
By Josh Horton

Playing with veteran Major Leaguers has been a big part of Corban Joseph's education.(Josh Horton)
Like the majority of 6’0 180 lb. second basemen, Corban Joseph doesn’t get in the batters box expecting to hit a home run. However, the Franklin, Tennessee native strayed from the norm, crushing a solo home run in his very first at bat with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“It was actually pretty exciting,” Joseph said of his first Triple-A home run. “I really wasn’t trying to do too much, but I got a good pitch to hit and hit it just right and I was excited for the good start.”

Joseph was selected by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and is getting his first starts at the Triple-A level. He believes the secret to his success thus far has something to do with the guys who surround him in the clubhouse each day.

“It’s pretty cool being able to talk to guys like Russell Branyan or Jack Cust, who have had several years in the big leagues,” Joseph said. “Then there is Cervelli and Pena who have had a lot of Big League time as well. It’s fun to kind of bounce ideas off of them and get some information and be able to learn from the mistakes they said they have made. It really makes me a better player and I feel fortunate to be teammates with those guys.”

Much like the key to his offensive game, Joseph also is a sponge when it comes to chatting with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infielders that have been here a bit longer. His goal is to learn as much as he can about each of the hitters on the opposing team, since he has only been with the club for a little over a month.

“It’s tough coming up here and not really knowing a lot of hitters, so I am pretty much relying on those guys (Ramiro Pena and Doug Bernier) on where there efficient guess is,” Joseph said. “I have to trust them out there and you know they have established themselves as players, but it is definitely good to have guys like that on the team so I can be able to talk about the game and get a better sense of what we are trying to accomplish as infielders. “

Although Joseph has caught on pretty quick, he feels that the toughest part about the International League is the opposing pitchers. When with the Trenton Thunder and other organizations in the Yankee system, Joseph felt most of the pitchers had a good primary pitch and still needed to work on their secondary stuff. With the new level, came new challenges and he found out quickly there are plenty of guys at the Triple-A level with more than one good pitch.

“I think Double-A to Triple-A, the best way to describe it is the pitchers are going to be a lot more around the zone and pretty much can locate their pitches where they want to, so you really have to have a good approach and stick with it throughout every at bat,” Joseph said. “You know, where as in double-A there are still a lot of pitchers trying to work on their secondary pitches and third pitches. Maybe they cant locate their change up or slider, so you are able to eliminate one of those pitches there and here you really cant.”

Instead of coming up with a whole new philosophy, Joseph decided to stay with what has always worked for him. The approach, which has worked thus far for him includes, studying the pitchers tendencies. He feels he is best prepared if he has a good idea of what each pitcher is going to throw in each count. It may take countless hours of studying research, but it seems to be working at this level as well.

“In the first at bat, I might just try and see what the starter has, what his slider looks like, what his changeup looks like and you know maybe battle from there,” Joseph said. “Then I can take that information into my next at bat. For example, if I am down 0-2 and he hangs a slider I know where it’s going to be. I think that a player like myself, who doesn’t hit a lot of home runs needs to be on base for guys like Russell and Jack and let them use their power. The main key for me is just staying in the zone.”

Since joining the Triple-A club, Joseph has hit it off really well with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s hitting coach Butch Wynegar. The two have been able to converse on a daily basis and figure out just what he needs to do to become a big league hitter.

“I really like this kid. I think he has a good chance to be a good hitter and if he fills out a little bit and gets bigger and stronger, I think the kid is going to have some juice in his bat,” Wynegar said. “He’s got really good hands, real whippy and I like the way he uses them. I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player.”

One of the biggest things Wynegar is pushing on Joseph is, getting on top of the ball and having everything line up perfectly on a consistent basis.

“I think the biggest thing for him is, he’s got the physical ability to hit at this level and I think even at the big league level, it’s more of a mental approach,” Wynegar said. “He’s got to make sure he gets to the hitting position on time and that he gets that barrel set before he goes. Sometimes he has too much waggle and he will end up looping it by getting the bat under the ball or something.”

Wynegar knows Joseph is a good hitter and feels that he can be an even better hitter if he just clears his head and keep his focus in every at bat.

“I just tell him he’s got to keep his mind in the at bat and get a good pitch to hit and just let it fly,” Wynegar said. “When he does that he swings the bat good. He’s a good hitter now and he is going to continue to be a good hitter for a long time.”

Joseph plans on taking everything he has learned from all the coaches and players and applying it to his game with hopes of getting better each day. He now knows, he is just one step away from his dream of being a Major League baseball player and he plans on doing whatever it takes to get there.

“I really enjoy playing with the guys here and they have helped me out a lot,” Joseph said. “You can see a lot of talent there and its fun to be a part of this and know that every day you are a phone call away from the Big Leagues.”

Josh Horton is Media Relations Assistant for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.and  has an MLBlog called Above the Plate. Follow Josh on Twitter: @J_HortonMU comments