After a breakout season in 2012, could the kid we affectionately call CoJo end up breaking into the majors as Robinson Cano's replacement?
Name: Corban Joseph
Position: Second base
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 24 (born 10/28/1988)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 180 lbs.
Remaining Contract: Under team control, three years of minor league service time
2012 Statistics: Double-A Trenton - 23 games, 102 PA, .314/.412/.430, 2 HR, 139 wRC+, .387 wOBA -- Triple-A Scranton - 84 games, 386 PA, .266/.366/.474, 13 HR, 134 wRC+, .376 wOBA
If Robinson Cano proves to be too expensive for the Yankees after this season, no one may be happier than Corban Joseph. Being blocked by a superstar at the major league level usually means a prospect ends up traded or wasting away in Scranton for years; but after a breakout season in 2012, Joseph may find the door to big leagues open sooner than he expected. The plan for a $189 million dollar budget in 2014 certainly favors inexpensive prospects over Boras clients expecting to greet the Brinks truck at their doorstep, and CoJo would certainly be the first in-house option to get a shot at taking over second base if Cano departs for a better contract elsewhere.
Joseph's strong suit is his hitting, and during his first stint with the Triple-A Yankees last season, he managed career-high numbers in home runs and slugging percentage after being promoted from Double-A Trenton 23 games into the year. Before his quick promotion, CoJo had managed to put together the highest walk percentage and lowest strikeout percentage of his career in his short time of repeating Double-A, showing promise that he was able to make enough adjustments during his prior stay there to warrant a more difficult challenge at the next level.
Unfortunately for CoJo, his defense will probably keep him in the minors again to begin 2013, as he doesn't have the sure-handedness around the diamond to be considered for a utility infielder spot. When fellow second baseman David Adams was moved to third base, some wondered why the same wasn't done with Joseph to possibly accomodate an Alex Rodriguez move to DH sooner rather than later. Joseph's arm had enough questions surrounding it that they felt like his best shot was to stay at second, even though he was originally drafted as a shortstop; another position which the Yankees desperately need a prospect to present themselves at with no luck in that department so far.
In his second season with Scranton, Joseph can go a long way toward proving himself major league ready by improving upon his already strong debut there last year. His position on the 40-man roster ensures that he could be called up to fill a hole in case of injury, but his best shot at the majors will come if the Yankees actually let Cano walk away at the end of this season. I like CoJo more than I probably should and he is absolutely one of my favorite Yankee prospects; but thinking he'd replace Cano's production is extremely optimistic, possibly to the point of foolishness. Seeing what he's capable of in Spring Training will certainly be of interest to fans less sure of Cano's chances of remaining in the Bronx next year, and it may end up being a bit of an audition for Corban Joseph. We'll all just have to see how that goes.