- Full name Don Atley Joseph
- Born 11/01/1987 in San Marcos, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Houston
- Debut 07/11/2013
Drafted in the 3rd round (88th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 (signed for $398,000).
View Draft ReportJoseph had little success in his first two years at Houston, bouncing between roles while battling his control and command. He finally harnessed his arm strength this spring, posting a 2.16 ERA, 11 saves and 75 strikeouts in 50 innings. The athletic 6-foot-3, 185-pounder now works consistently with a lively 90-93 mph fastball after often having to dial it down to 87-90 to find the plate in the past. He also has come up with a reliable breaking ball, a hard slider that gives him two legitimate weapons for pro ball. Joseph still doesn't have a trustworthy offspeed pitch and his control still isn't sterling, so he profiles to remain a reliever at the next level. He has enough stuff to be much more than a lefty specialist, and he should go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.
Organization Prospect Rankings
With Joseph, you get the good with the bad. He's got a fastball/slider pairing that is devastating to lefthanders and can be a tough look for righthanders as well. That repertoire comes with a delivery that makes it hard to throw strikes consistently, however. Joseph's pitching motion is the antithesis of direct to the plate. He stands with his back turned to the batter, his front foot pointing somewhere between home plate and first base. He hangs over the rubber at this cocked angle, then sweeps his front foot to the plate at the last moment, ensuring that his momentum is carrying him toward third base as he delivers the pitch. Acquired from the Reds in a July 2012 trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati, Joseph's delivery may be beyond repair, but its funkiness provides deception. He must do a better job of throwing strike one to set up his plus slider. At times he tries to take velocity off to throw his slider for strikes, but it's more of a chase pitch, so it's only effective when paired with his 88-92 mph fastball in the zone. If Joseph threw more strikes, he could be a solid late-inning reliever, but for now, he looks more like a second lefty in the pen.
After bombing with a 6.94 ERA in Double-A in 2011, Joseph just as quickly reversed course last season. Acquired along with righthander J.C. Sulbaran from the Reds in July for Jonathan Broxton, Joseph immediately became the Royals' best lefthanded relief prospect. He filled a void created when Kansas City traded Kevin Chapman to the Astros in March. His stuff rates a tick better than Chapman's, as he pairs a 92-95 mph fastball with a slider that's devastating at times. Joseph's success depends on his delivery. When he overthrows, he opens up too soon, taking away the bite from his slider. But when he stays under control, he's nearly unhittable for lefthanders and is capable of getting righties out as well. Command isn't his strong suit, but he generally throws enough strikes to succeed. Joseph likely will return to Triple-A after joining the Royals' 40-man roster in November. When they need another lefty in their bullpen, his will be the first number they call.
After a dominant 2010 season that saw him climb from low Class A to Double-A in just a couple of months, Joseph turned in one of the worst performances in the system last year. He gave up five runs in one inning in his first appearance and never got his ERA below 6.00. Joseph's troubles didn't come from a lack of stuff. He actually threw harder than he had in past years, sitting at 91-93 mph and touching 96 with his fastball. But as he faced more advanced hitters, Joseph's below-average control caught up to him. His mechanics are pretty ugly, as he whips his head during his delivery and falls off the mound toward third base, making it hard to throw consistent strikes. A tendency to overthrow doesn't help either. He also opens up too soon in his delivery, which turned his slider from a plus pitch to a merely ordinary offering. The Reds still think Joseph has the stuff to be a power reliever if he can improve his mechanics. If not, his effectiveness against lefties (.615 opponent OPS in 2011) should at least make him a lefty specialist. He'll give Double-A another try at the start of 2012.
The Reds drafted Joseph after he had an up-and-down career at Houston that didn't really take off until he moved into the bullpen as a junior. Cincinnati knew what it was getting and believed Joseph would move quickly if he stuck to a bullpen role, and so far he has lived up to every expectation. When Joseph is pitching with tempo, hitters have trouble handling him. He throws a plus-plus slider that proved unhittable at three different levels last year, and hitters sometimes flailed at pitches that would almost hit them. Joseph's fastball is a solid pitch in its own right, sitting at 90-93 mph. He's working on a changeup but has rarely used it and is unlikely to need it unless he slides into a long relief role. Joseph's delivery isn't particularly clean and it has plenty of effort, and he has a tendency to open up too soon in his delivery, but he somewhat tamed that in 2010. Joseph has yet to hit a speed bump on his climb through the minors. He should open the year in Triple-A, but a promotion to Cincinnati at some point seems likely.
After two middling seasons as a midweek starter for Houston, Joseph won the Cougars' closer job as a junior and turned his college career around. After posting ERAs above 5.00 in each of his first two seasons, he went 3-1, 2.16 with 11 saves and 75 strikeouts in 50 innings. That impressed the Reds enough to draft him in the third round last June and sign him for $398,000. Before 2009, Joseph had to reduce his velocity to get the ball over the plate, but he sharpened his control and was able to locate his 90-93 mph fastball where he wanted. He also has a hard-biting 82-83 mph slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch. His command and his lack of a changeup make it unlikely that he can transition to being a starter. He profiles best as a power reliever, though he has the stuff to retire righthanders and shouldn't be pigeonholed as a lefty specialist. Joseph pitched well while reaching low Class A in his pro debut. He may advance rapidly through the minors and should open his first full season in high Class A.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Kansas City Royals in 2013