TORONTO — Catcher Caleb Joseph has raised his batting average 39 points over his last 10 games. And he also has given the club an unexpected power surge recently with a home run in each of his last three games.
“I’ve just been working on some mechanical things, and they’re slowly starting to show their head in terms of results,” Joseph said. “It’s one of those things. You start getting more and more comfortable with the more at-bats you get. You’re starting to face people multiple times because remember, the first time up, I’m seeing some of these guys the first time ever. You slowly start to get more comfortable the more you face these guys.”
Hitting coach Jim Presley said he told Joseph to stand more upright in the batter’s box and hit down on the ball. In recent days, Joseph has been able to get the barrel of the bat out in the front of the plate, leading to the homers.
“He hit a home run at our place, and he started getting the barrel there instead of worrying about everything else,” Presley said. “Stand up taller, load up and stay high. He’s really done that. I showed him on the video, and he really came out and made the adjustment, and he’s been hitting balls hard.
Over his last 10 games entering Wednesday, Joseph is 12-for-35 (.343 batting average) with three home runs and five RBIs.
“You don’t have to tell him twice,” Presley said. “He’s a very smart kid. He makes adjustments. He’s quick. … He’s got a ways to go. He’s not quite there but him and [Nick Hundley] have really held that catching job down really well for us.”
Manager Buck Showalter said Joseph’s defense — he leads the American League by throwing out 50 percent of base runners (17-for-34) and ranks fifth among AL catchers in total zone runs with five — has allowed the club to give him at-bats to work through his early struggles at the plate.
“I think it was a matter of time,” Showalter said. “The reason he earned the opportunity to keep playing is that he caught well. If he hadn’t, he would be sitting [in the dugout] with me, or he’d be catching in Norfolk. That’s what allows him to stay in the lineup. …
“That’s one thing guys in our organization know. … That’s what’s allowed him to work this out. It’s not like we knew he was going to hit and we just ran him out there. We ran him out there because he was catching well. There ain’t no chicken and the egg when it comes to that.”