A year ago this week, a foul ball struck Tommy Joseph in the catcher's mask, and his career was firmly in doubt because of another concussion. His "prospect" label was stripped, his position changed. The odds were longer than ever.

But Joseph forced his way back into the conversation, and on Friday, he became a big leaguer.

The Phillies promoted the 24-year-old first baseman after an extraordinary month at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He will replace Darin Ruf as Ryan Howard's platoon partner. Ruf, who endured a disappointing month, was optioned to triple A.

The Phillies need offense, although Joseph should not be viewed as a savior. His numbers at triple A - where he had a .347 batting average and .611 slugging percentage - were too hard to ignore. The question now is how often Joseph can find playing time in the majors.

The transaction is a setback for Ruf, who last season was among the best hitters in baseball against lefthanded pitchers. He never found his footing in 2016. Part of that could be attributed to uneven playing time. Ruf, 29, is at his own crossroads.

The Phillies could seek to keep Ruf in the minors for two weeks, just to provide regular at bats, then recall him without the penalty of losing major-league service time. Ruf posted a .399 OPS in 63 plate appearances with the Phillies.

Joseph was the centerpiece of the 2012 deadline deal that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco. He wowed team officials and veteran players with a stint in 2013 spring training that had everyone convinced he was the franchise's catcher of the future. He played in 36 minor-league games that season because of a concussion.

He had more concussion issues in 2014, followed by a wrist injury that required surgery and limited him to 27 games that season. When he went on the disabled list May 12, 2015, he was hitting .123 with a .313 OPS for the IronPigs. It was not until the final month of last season did Joseph show a renewed power stroke.

Joseph, who said he's lost almost 25 pounds since last season, smashed six homers and seven doubles in 24 games with Lehigh Valley this season. He had to hit his way to the majors, and it was a performance the Phillies rewarded.