Prospect Joseph switching to first base

Prospect Joseph switching to first base

PHILADELPHIA -- It seemed inevitable that Tommy Joseph would need to change positions to continue his baseball career.

The change became official this week.

The Phillies are moving Joseph from catcher to first base, following a string of concussions he sustained behind the plate since they acquired him in July 2012, when they traded Hunter Pence to the Giants. Joseph suffered his latest concussion this season, but he has also battled vision deficiencies, which could have been a result of the concussions.

"He's been going through a lot of vision therapy," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "They said that what they've accomplished on that is encouraging."

Joseph, 23, will work out at first base through the remainder of Triple-A Lehigh Valley's homestand, which runs through Friday. He will continue that work with Double-A Reading, before eventually heading to Clearwater, Fla.

"He's positive, he's excited -- and I am, too," Jordan said. "He had to have the burden of, 'When is this going to happen again?' I've seen him play first base. He's just ready to get going."

Other Minor League matters:

• Aaron Nola: Nola is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his first two starts with Lehigh Valley. He threw five scoreless innings in his IronPigs debut on June 18, but he required 95 pitches to do it. Buffalo's hitters extended his pitch count by consistently fouling off pitches. Jordan sat behind the plate with Nola three days later, when Nola was charting pitches. Nola called his first Triple-A start a great learning experience. He applied that information to Wednesday's start, also against Buffalo. He allowed six hits, three runs, one walk and struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings. He needed just 96 pitches this time.

"That's the thing about him," Jordan said. "Just a great feel. That was impressive. To see him apply it against the same lineup was impressive."

• Kelly Dugan: Dugan, like Joseph, is another oft-injured prospect in the system. But he is back playing with Reading, and playing well. Dugan, who had been sidelined most of the season with a foot injury, has hit .362 with four doubles, five RBIs and an .851 OPS in 12 games with Reading.

"All he's done is perform and put up numbers since I've been here, when he's been healthy," Jordan said. "Kelly looks good. His timing isn't quite there, but he can hit. He's been good."

• Cornelius Randolph: The team's No. 1 pick in this year's Draft is adjusting well to left field. Minor League outfield coordinator Andy Abad told Jordan recently that Randolph, who was drafted as a shortstop, is going to be a good outfielder.

"He's athletic enough, but we're just starting that process," Jordan said.

• Malquin Canelo: The Phillies just promoted the 20-year-old shortstop from Class A Lakewood to Clearwater. He hit .311 with 22 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 23 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 21 walks and 39 strikeouts in 287 plate appearances with Lakewood. He homered in his first game last week with Clearwater.

"There's more than one shortstop here," said Jordan, referring to the highly-touted J.P. Crawford, who is in Reading. Canelo, whom the organization signed as an amateur free agent in April 2012, is a plus defender who has started to hit. "He's an [Adeiny] Hechavarria kind of guy," Jordan said. "He's a good player. Nobody ever talks about him, but people will start talking about him very soon."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.