Dodger Chatter: Connor Joe

For many of us who follow the Dodgers minor league players there have been some surprises during the current season. Some of the young players have met our expectations, some are still unexpectedly spinning their wheels looking to take-off for the 2018 season and yet others have unexpectedly caught our attention.

One of the surprises, although perhaps not to the Dodgers front office, is Tulsa third baseman Connor Joe who was selected 39th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2014 First-Year Player draft. At that time he was listed No. 100 by Baseball America.

Joe was born in San Diego and graduated from Poway High School in his hometown of Poway. Other graduates of Poway High that we might recognize are Tony Gwynn Jr. and Phil Plantier.

During his senior high school year he was selected as his team  MVP, awarded the silver bat and was named a first-team all-star.

Upon graduation from high school Joe headed to the University of San Diego. It was not only close to home for him but had a baseball program that attracted him. He had also been recruited by the University of Arizona and Stanford.

Joe was a third baseman until he got to USD but had to be more flexible in his positioning as third base for the Toreros was owned by Kris Bryant. That is the same Kris Bryant who was selected as the 2016 National League MVP.

However, Joe was to make his own mark at the college level. During his junior year at San Diego he hit .367 with nine homers and a conference-leading 51 runs batted in. He started a pattern of getting to first base via the walk as during his three years of college ball he walked 79 times and struck out 84 times helping him post a .423 OBP.  Joe was named the West Coast Conference player of the year as a junior.

Larry Broadway, the Director of Minor League Operations for the Pirates, was not concerned with where Joe played and in his words was, “… betting on the bat.”

Connor Joe sat out his first year as a professional after injuring his right heal when it got stuck in the outfield at Jamestown. The 6’ 0”/ 205-pound right-handed hitter rehabbed until the 2015 season. He used his time to get healthy, learn a lot about himself physically and mentally and learned about the Pirates organization.

At the A-level during the 2015 season Joe hit just .245  with one home run and 20 runs batted in. He did walk 50 times

He moved up to the High-A Bradenton Marauders in 2016 and had a more promising season  hitting  .277 with a .351 OBP. His expected power had not yet arrived as he hit but five home runs in 107 games. He did drive in 52 runs.

At age-24 Joe moved up to the AA Altoona Curve of the Eastern League to begin the 2017 season. Then  on August 5, 2017 he got the call but not the call he might have expected as the trade deadline had passed. He recalls it well..

“It was Larry Broadway, the farm director,’’ Joe said. “Not every day a minor-leaguer hears from the farm director .’’

Broadway informed Joe, now a first baseman, that he had  been traded to the Atlanta Braves for major league infielder Sean Rodriguez.

“The whole thing was a little stressful,’’ said Joe, who was hitting .240 with five home runs and 30 RBIs at the time of the trade. “That’s the business side of baseball and the first lesson is I can only control what I can control.”

Initially quite upset by the news, with the help of his family Joe was able to find a positive side to the trade..

 “My mind went into a fog,’’ Joe said of that August trade, per Terry Monahan of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Being traded straight up for a big leaguer made me feel a little better.”

Joe played out the rest of 2017 season with the AA Mississippi Braves of the Southern League where he hit but .135 over 20 games.

His tenure with the Braves lasted just more than a month when he was again traded, this time to the Dodgers for international bonus pool space.

Skip ahead to April 6, 2018 for a game with the AA Tulsa Drillers in Frisco to meet the RoughRiders. Joe, now approaching 26, had two hits in four at bats, one of them a home run.

As the season progressed he has continued to hit and currently leads the league with a .643 slugging percentage, and an OPS of 1.095. His .453 OBP ranks second in the league while his 24 walks are third and his .330 batting average is sixth best. On the season he has posted 13 multiple hit games. He has hit eight home runs in 31 games so the bat that the aforementioned Larry Broadway was looking for may just have ended up in Dodger Blue.

He has played 24 games at third base and seven at first base as a Driller.

Connor Joe most likely will get another call, this time  to move up to the OKC Dodgers before too long and at most following the Texas League All-Star game on June 26 which is to be held in Midland, Texas.

Mark Timmons on Monday’s Game

  • This loss was on Utley, not Baez.  Utley looked his age last night… also in the 9th.  There were 2 or 3 plays Forsythe makes that he didn’t.
  • That said, they have to score more.  Great outing by Striker Buehler.
  • Horrible call on Kemp at 1B – he never twitched a muscle towards 2B!  Horrible!
  • Max Muncy looked like a solution at 1B, at least a LH solution.
  • I’m pretty sure the Dodgers will lose more games – Just take each series.  That’s the key.
  • Had a nice talk and a beer with Bobby last night! Great guy!  Smart guy! In many ways – he knows of what I speak!  😉

This article has 38 Comments

  1. The run on Baez was unearned but I still was feeling dread as soon as I saw him warming up. Can’t walk a guy there and it was batter interference on the throw by Grandal. Can’t make those errors in a close game or any game. The hottest two hitters last week were Puig and Muncy in that order and Puig sits?! Doc is managing like he just can’t help himself from constant juggling. If all he has for the 8th and 9th are Baez and Hudson then we need better set up guys and fast! Make it so please. Buehler pitched well enough to win, the bats should be ashamed. Rockies moved into 1st place with the win and Snakes loss. Marquez is a totally different pitcher away from Coors Field.

    1. Kemp shouldn’t be moved down in the line up, against righties.

      Kemp is hitting righties better then both Joc and Cody, but he is almost always moved down in the line up, against righties.

      And Kemp also hit well last week, too.

      Turner isn’t hitting right now, so we need a stable hitter, hitting fourth, like Kemp is.

      I was surprised that Puig didn’t play, and although I would not put Puig at the top of the order, I would have played Puig, because he has been crushing the balls, he does hit.

      And I wouldn’t bring Baez in a close game, in the later innings of a game, and this is getting old.

      And although Utley did make some defensive errors, Baez, or any of our relievers, should not come into a clean inning, and give a hitter a free base, in any game, but especially, in a tied or one run game.

      And since Baez has to come into a clean inning, he can’t put the go ahead run on base, and because of that, this game is on both Baez, and Utley.

      And what everyone seems to always forget, is the fact Utley made an error in game two, and that is why the Astros scored a run off Hill.

      But the Dodger’s official scorer, didn’t give Utley an error, but the ball was hit right at Utley, and he should have easily made that play.

      And that was why Roberts took Hill out of game two, in the World Series.

      But the real crime in this game, was the fact we wasted a great start from Buehler, because we have to win every good start we get, because our rotation is missing two, of our regular starters.

      So this team needs to find a way to put runs on the broad, especially when we get a good start!

      That Rockies starter should have been challenged a lot more then he was, because Buehler actually out pitched, that Rockies starter.

  2. Great meeting u as well, Mark. Always fun chatting about Dodger baseball. Hopefully we get you a W tonight

  3. Yeah, the Dodgers have turned their season around. That’s what we were told yesterday. They had won 4 in a row but were still 6 under .500 and had lost 10 of 11 before the 4 wins. What we need to see is consistency in all phases of the game.

    But they lost again. A game that they shouldn’t have lost give the great job that Buehler did.

    How bad was it? Let me count the ways:

    1 – the offense couldn’t score against a guy with an ERA over 5.00. They can’t win if they can’t score unless the pitching staff has Koufax and Drysdale both throwing 300+ innings.
    2 – no way Baez should have walked a guy hitting .120 in the 8th inning. You can’t give up baserunners in those circumstances. Baez has a well documented inability to pitch in high leverage situations. Bad on Baez, bad on Roberts for bringing Baez in when he did.
    3 – Utley couldn’t make the play when he needed to.

    So the offense was bad, the bullpen was vulnerable, and the defense couldn’t get it done. A microcosm of the Dodgers’ season so far. I posted this from the Washington Post on May 18:
    “Key point? “But at this point, there is not a facet of the game where the Dodgers can be said to excel. Their offense entered Thursday ranked 21st in the majors in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.705) and tied for 24th in homers (39). The bullpen had a 4.54 ERA and was tied for first in the majors with 10 blown saves and 24 homers allowed. And in defensive efficiency — the rate at which a defense turns batted balls into outs — the Dodgers rank 27th, a remarkable drop-off after they ranked second in MLB in 2017.”

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  4. Buehler, Cannot imagine getting any better performance from 23 year old rookie. The guy looks like a physics major or something, but obviously he’s tough as nails. And talented as hell. As for the rest of the team, hopefully they show up tonight.

  5. Saw that Verdugo is playing CF in AAA. I’m assuming the front office has him playing there so he can take over for Bellinger and allow him to go back to first base.

    If this is an option who would you take off the 25 man roster? Before last nights game, I was thinking Utley could be the odd man out.

  6. Does anyone know if Stewart, who is starting tonight, has developed a third pitch? Also Solano should get a crack at 2nd base. He surely has earned the right. The Dodgers just might catch lightning in a bottle again.

    1. Not sure about a third pitch but he’s definitely going to need something since most of the Rockies have hit really well against him in the past. This could get ugly.

  7. Absolutely a collective effort in that loss last night. And yes, even if you were planning on starting Chase at 2nd… you have to bring in Logan as a late inning defensive replacement at the end of a close game (or anyone else that can cover more ground, has a stronger am, etc.)

    And you’re right… this loss was ultimately not on Baez. It’s on the god damn manager that brings him into a close game in the first place. This is going on four years now where me and every other Dodger fan I know starts to feel that sinking feeling when he starts warming up.

    If Baez was pitching in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia… he would have been run out of town 2 years ago.

    Dave for some unknown reason seems to have a soft spot for Petey and keeps giving him chance after chance after chance to fail.

  8. Some people would whine and snivel if they were hung with a new rope. I’m thinking we’re going to the playoffs again hopefully with a shot at the WS again, even with God damn Dave and hopefully not Petey.

  9. This is going on 4 years now where you and a few other fan you know starts to whine and sniffle when Petey warms up and I’ll be damned iy we’ve been to the playoffs how many years and the WS last year.

    1. I respect your opinion… but one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

      The team has been successful in spite of Baez not because of him.

      But I do agree with you, I think the team is going to make the playoffs again this year… that’s why Baez staying on the team scares the hell out of me.

      I’ll leave you with the words of someone who expressed this feeling last week better than I ever could.

      AlwaysCompete says:
      May 16, 2018 at 11:19 pm
      This continual use of Baez in critical game situations is bordering on absolute arrogance. It is almost like, “I don’t care what anyone else sees or believes, I am going to keep throwing him out there until he proves me right.” FAZ needs to grow a pair and just take it out of Doc’s hands and option him…to Great Lakes, although that may be unfair to Great Lakes fans. He should be done as a Dodger, and I have never ever ever felt this way about a Dodger, and I have felt this way since 2014.

      1. The thing that gets me is he had the guy 1 and 2 and then was missing Grandal’s target by a couple feet. The 3-2 pitch he called a fastball then set up right over the middle just above the knees and the pitch sailed high and off the plate inside. Grandal had to get up in a hurry to even catch it then just stared at Baez like WTF? I don’t care how hard he throws you have to know where it’s going. Hitters can’t hit his breaking stuff at all because they are sitting dead red but he won’t throw it enough. It’s purely mental not physical, he has the tools.

        1. I agree 1,000%

          He was all over the place last night. He does have the tools, that’s what makes it so frustrating watching him pitch. I’m sure it’s 90% mental with him.

          You can see it in his eyes… he looks totally shook out there… like his confidence has been drained from his body. Sending him down or releasing him would be the best thing for both him and the team.

          If he stays around though… I think Grandal & Barnes should start using Jedi mind tricks on him. If they want him to throw the pitch high and outside, they should set up low and inside.

          Dave always talks about how he likes to put his players in a position to succeed… using Baez in those spots seems to counter that philosophy.

    2. Not sure who you are addressing this to but it sounds as if you feel no one should say anything negative about the team. You must be in the trump administration.

  10. Is it just me or does Brock Stewart look like he’s constipated every time he throws a baseball?

  11. Golly he using a Trump card.
    If I were a Twitter in’ Chief Fan, how could I love my Blue with all those players of color!?!?
    And god damn (really) Dave at the helm.

  12. I will be there for dinner but can’t do the game. I’m at the Ravine watching the Rockies hit everything hard. Stewart is lucky

  13. Although Stewart was hit pretty had tonight, his curve ball looked pretty good. His curve ball was his third pitch that he had to develop.

  14. Good win, and needed. Stewart has regressed, why does his velocity now sit at 90 to 91 instead of 92 to 95? Even in relief this year I think he maxed out at 93 or 94 instead of 97 like last year, hurt or tired? How about Santana next Tuesday against Philly instead of Stewart, he lines up?

    I hope I am wrong about Fields, he has actually good the last few outings not set up good but much better. Still feel we need a late inning reliever sooner rather then later, I thought Ariel Hernadez might have been that guy but as usual I was likely wrong about a player.

    1. Don’t give up on Ariel Hernandez. He has a tremendous arm but with questionable control. Control can be taught and or tempered. If he can gain control, he could become a very effective reliever. Yes, I know it is an “if” (maybe a BIG IF), but his arm is worth patience. The Dodgers will work with Hernandez in the minors, while NYY continues to work with Dellin Betances at the ML level.
      I also continue to be perplexed by the lack of trust in Josh Fields. When the standard for many Dodger fans is the 2016 version of Zach Britton, it is hard to live up to those standards. Thus far this year, Fields has appeared in 23 games, 22.2 IP, 1.99 ERA, and 0.926 WHIP. Josh leads the team in both games and relief innings pitched. In those 23 games, he has inherited 3 runners and none have scored. In those 23 games, he held his opponent scoreless in 19 of them. His one blown save (and loss) was in a 7-4 loss to the Padres on May 5. In the 7 games since, he has allowed 0 runs, 3 hits, and 1 walk. In his last three games (in 4 days), Fields has entered in the 8th with the lead, and has 2 holds and 1 save. In his 23 games, he has entered in the 8th inning or later in 16, and has 5 holds and 2 saves. Josh Fields may not be perfect, but he (R) and Alexander (L) can be a good bridge to Jansen. But if perfection is the standard, he and every pitcher will sadly disappoint.
      I recognize and understand that Josh gets a lot of flak for HR’s. This year he has allowed 3 solo HR’s in 22.2 IP, or 1 every 7.6 innings. Last year it was 1 in every 5.7 innings, so he seems to be improving in that area as well. In comparison, Kershaw has allowed a HR every 6.3 IP before his DL. Jansen has also allowed 3 HR’s but in 2.0 less innings.

  15. “Mom was giving me a hard time. She said when I was young and would dive for a ball, I would glide. Now I plop and stick. This time I made sure, I looked at the Jumbotron to see if I was gliding.” — Kemp, on utilizing defensive tips from his mother on a diving catch of Story’s second-inning liner
    I’ve always liked Kemp.

  16. We’re on the move. 9th worst record in baseball but just 4.5 games out of 1st place. Kershaw back soon, JT back in the line-up, CT3 hitting the ball well. Muncy doesn’t look like he knows how to short hop a throw at 1B.

    Lets keep it going.

  17. Bum – we just gotta make sure Rhianna doesn’t show up at the Ravine. Kemp’s achilles.

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