BALTIMORE -- Not every team has a backup who can provide the same production as the starter, but reserve catcher Caleb Joseph is helping to keep fresh legs behind the plate and hot bats in the lineup.Prior to Wednesday night's 6-0 win over the Royals, O's manager Buck Showalter had
BALTIMORE -- Not every team has a backup who can provide the same production as the starter, but reserve catcher Caleb Joseph is helping to keep fresh legs behind the plate and hot bats in the lineup.
Prior to Wednesday night's 6-0 win over the Royals, O's manager Buck Showalter had already made it clear that "starter" Welington Castillo and "backup" Joseph, who have both played an equal 61 games this season, will continue to split time behind the plate.
Although Castillo was named the Opening Day starter, Joseph has continued to show there is no drop-off in production when he steps in the box. In the second inning with a runner on second against the Royals, Joseph barreled a two-run blast -- with an exit velocity of a 104.5 mph, according to Statcast™ -- that put the O's up 3-0 and matched his season-high five-game hitting streak. Joseph, who is hitting .296 overall, increased his average to .300 with runners in scoring position with two home runs and 15 RBIs.
"[I'm] doing a lot of work with [hitting coach Scott] Coolbaugh. I can't give the guy enough credit. You know, he's in here every day working and we've really solidified a few things," Joseph said. "Mainly it's just trying to see the ball, get a good pitch to hit, have a good approach. But one of the things for me is just mechanically.
"I need to get a little bit more sound mechanically, and it's kind of showing up more consistently. When you can put consistent swings on the ball, you can get desired results. When you have one spot in one area that you can hit the ball, you're not going to have a lot of success in this league. So lengthening the swing a little bit has really helped, and a lot of the credit goes to Scott."
In his previous 46 games, Joseph was hitting .341, which was the highest batting average for a catcher in the Majors during that span (minimum of 100 at-bats) and ranked fourth among American League hitters behind Jose Altuve (.388), Carlos Correa (.351) and Eric Hosmer (.344).
"I wish I could bottle [my success] up and sell it," Joseph said. "I'd probably quit baseball."
Combined, Joseph and Castillo led the AL and ranked third in the Majors with a .292 average entering Wednesday. In 61 games apiece from Castillo and Joseph, and five games from Francisco Pena, the three catchers have combined to log 18 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs.
"Having [Castillo and Joseph] back there, pitchers don't really care about who they throw to," Showalter said. "They're both on the same page and they're both offensive threats, which is unusual for two catchers like that."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.