Joseph Thriving in New Role

Joseph has reached safely in 16 of 17 games

MOOSIC, PA – Corban Joseph admits that he's never really hit from the leadoff spot in his career. That recently changed and so have the results for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Following a slow start to the season, Joseph was inserted into the leadoff spot for the RailRiders, a move that seems to be paying off for him and the team.

"It was kind of a different experience," the 24-year-old infielder said of hitting leadoff. "But I've always tried to keep the same approach that I always do, whether it's leadoff or two-hole, and just try to get on base for the guys to drive me in."

Joseph has proven that he can hit at the Triple-A level. After starting the 2012 season in Double-A Trenton, Joseph was promoted after just 23 games. He appeared in 84 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit .266 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI's. He also added 25 doubles and scored 50 runs.

This past spring, Joseph earned an invite to the Yankees' Spring Training, where he saw significant playing time. Although he only hit .200, he appeared in 22 games, had eight hits and two doubles, scored seven runs and added four RBIs.

Joseph said his time with the Yankees was something that has prepared him for this season, especially because of who he was spending time with.

"I really enjoyed it, learned a lot and got to talk to a lot of people," he said. "I was sitting in the middle of [Derek] Jeter and [Robinson] Cano and got to really throw some ideas off of them.

"You take advantage of those situations, you don't sit there and just try to be quiet," he added. "When you got guys that have been there and done great things in the big leagues, you want to try to pick their mind and get to know them as a person, as well."

He said he's been able to put some of the tips he's learned into his hitting routine.

"That's one of the reasons why it's a good experience for young guys to go up there (Yankees' Spring Training), just to be able to learn some new things," he said. "I've watched how they prepared themselves every day, took some stuff from different people's routines and kind of enhanced mine a little bit better."

Following Spring Training, Joseph and the RailRiders opened the season at their newly renovated PNC Field. The homestand did not go as planned.

The RailRiders lost five of six, which included a four-game sweep by Pawtucket in the opening series, and scored only 17 runs. That's when the team decided to make the change.

Joseph was plugged into the leadoff role April 14 in the first game of a doubleheader at Buffalo. Since then, the RailRiders have won seven of ten and scored 58 runs entering Tuesday night's constest.

In that 10-game stretch through April 22, Joseph hit .341 with three home runs and six RBI's to go along with four doubles and 12 runs scored.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hitting coach Butch Wynegar said that although Joseph doesn't fit the role of a typical leadoff hitter, he's doing all the things the team is looking for in it.

"There's no real leadoff candidate that we have here," Wynegar said. "Corban's speed is average at best, but I'll tell you, he's an aggressive hitter. He's a guy who can go to the plate, see a lot of pitches, draw his share of walks and once in a while even pop one out of the ballpark leading off the ballgame.

"He's doing exactly what I like to see him do right know, and he's doing it pretty consistently," he added. "I don't know if it's mental for him and maybe he really likes it. As long as he's swinging the bat well, I try to stay out of his head."

Before the move was made, the RailRiders had an unprecedented four straight days of games rained out. Although unusual, Joseph said the rainouts weren't necessarily a bad thing.

"We'd come to the field, get in the cage and hit, and I think in the big picture it kind of helped," he said. "We could hit as long as we wanted, and in a way, got to rest our minds. And then we got rolling again when we started playing."

Wynegar said he wants Joseph to strive to be a .300-hitter this season. He also believes bigger things are in store for him.

"The kid can flat out hit," Wynegar said. "I think he's real close to being big-league ready. I already told him, ‘If you get called up, I don't want to see you again until next spring."

Joseph, who is on the Yankees' 40-man-roster, hopes that the Yankees would think he's ready to join the club now. But he knows what he can and cannot control and will continue to go about his everyday business.

"I just know that every day I can get better," he said. "Whether I'm here or in the big leagues or even A-ball, you can at least take the time to try and get better, and that's what I'm doing now."

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