Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Concern for Tommy Joseph; Cesar Hernandez close to return

Tommy Joseph, a top catching prospect, is done for the season and could be forced to switch positions.

Concern for Tommy Joseph; Cesar Hernandez close to return

Phillies catching prospect Tommy Joseph. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies catching prospect Tommy Joseph. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The day was March 6 when Tommy Joseph's season reached its highest point. He caught nine innings of a Grapefruit League game, won praise from Roy Halladay, and twice singled off Stephen Strasburg.

The rest of the catching prospect's first full season in the Phillies system is a nightmare.

Joseph will not play again in 2013, director of player development Joe Jordan said Thursday. The 22-year-old is still hampered by concussion symptoms from a May incident. It is the third concussion of his young career. And it could force Joseph to play a position other than catcher.

Jordan said the team is hopeful Joseph can remain behind the plate, where his value is highest, but the organization may talk about a switch before 2014 begins. Joseph, acquired in the Hunter Pence trade last July, played in just 36 games and hit .179 with a .514 OPS.

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When Joseph departed big-league spring training, the plan looked simple. Joseph, with a solid season, could ascend to the majors in 2014 as Carlos Ruiz's heir. Now that path is decidedly less certain.

Another prospect, Cesar Hernandez, is still sidelined by a wrist injury. Hernandez has played once since July 21. Jordan said Hernandez is close to a return. When he does play again, it will be in center field, Jordan said. The Phillies are experimenting with the second baseman's versatility with hopes of making him a utility player in the majors.

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