In this ongoing series that will last most of spring training, we’re going to look at each player that will be in Major League camp with the Cincinnati Reds. Each post will have some information on the player. There will be some background information, profiling, projections, and more. To see all of the posts in the series, you can click here. Today we jump further into the 40-man roster, looking at Connor Joe.
Connor Joe’s Background
Acquired: 1st round draft pick by the Pirates in 2014. Acquired by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft in December 2018.
Born: August 16, 1992
Height/Weight: 6′ 0″ / 205 lbs
Years of MLB Experience: Zero.
Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. Connor Joe would begin working his way up through their farm system reaching Double-A in 2017. He was later traded to the Atlanta Braves in August of 2017. Seven weeks later he was then traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2018 he would reach Triple-A and had a breakout season. The Dodgers left him unprotected and the Cincinnati Reds selected him with their first round pick in the Rule 5 Draft.
Connor Joe’s 2018 Season
Leading into the 2018 season, Connor Joe had been disappointing on the offensive side of the field. He had never slugged better than .392 in his career, and that came as a 23-year-old in A-ball. When he arrived in the Dodgers organization in 2018 he began to change his approach and tried getting the ball in the air more. And it worked. His season began in Double-A Tulsa where he played in 57 games and hit .304/.425/.554 with 16 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City in the second half. He wasn’t quite as strong there, but still hit very well. In 49 games there he hit .294/.385/.494 with 10 more doubles, 2 triples, and 6 more home runs. In total he played in 106 games, had 435 plate appearances, and hit a combined .299/.408/.527 with 26 doubles, 3 triples, and 17 home runs. He also walked 60 times with 88 strikeouts.
Connor Joe’s Playing History
While Connor Joe signed quickly after being drafted in 2014 he missed the entire season after the draft due to a back injury. He joined the Low-A West Virginia affiliate for the Pirates in 2015 and played in just over half of a season – missing 60 games. He walked significantly more often than he struck out, with 50 walks and just 34 strikeouts, but he struggled to hit as he posted a .245/.366/.303 line. The next season he was promoted to Bradenton in the Florida State League. He made big improvements, hitting .277/.351/.392 – which on the surface doesn’t seem like a big improvement, but with the pitcher friendly league at play, it was.
In 2017 he spent his season in Double-A for both the Pirates and Braves organizations. It was a step backwards as he struggled, hitting just .222/.319/.340 during the season. He showed good plate discipline – walking 41 times with 62 strikeouts – but his hitting continued to be an issue. Then, as noted above, everything changed in 2018 with a new approach.
Projecting Connor Joe for 2019
With no Major League time to work with, and with a disappointing line prior to the 2018 season, it’s not surprising that the two projection systems who took a shot at projecting Connor Joe were a bit down on his expected performance.
How could Connor Joe fit in Cincinnati in 2019?
As a Rule 5 Draft Pick Connor Joe is going to have to remain on the Cincinnati Reds 25-man roster all season or be returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That could be a bit of an issue given that the manager seems to want to try and make a 4-man bench work in Cincinnati. It’s very tough to see where Joe fits into a 4-man bench if the team happens to be healthy. Even with the ability to play a little bit of everywhere – he’s got time on the corners in both the infield and outfield, as well as getting some action at catcher – the roster just doesn’t seem to look like there’s a clear fit. If the team goes with a more normal 5-man bench, that’s where you could see him fit in – as a bit of a utility guy who can play all around and be a pinch-hitting option.