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Joseph displays potential behind plate in AFL

PHOENIX -- Just a few months ago, Tommy Joseph's path to the Major Leagues was muddled with uncertainty.

Selected in the fifth round by the Giants in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Joseph spent the first two and a half seasons of his professional career working in the shadow of a big league star.

Even though he consistently turned scouts' heads, Joseph was stuck behind the already established All-Star and National League Most Valuable Player Award candidate Buster Posey in San Francisco.

All that changed, however, at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline this year.

Sent from the Giants to the Phillies as the centerpiece of the Hunter Pence deal, Joseph received a fresh start in an organization without a long-term prospect behind the plate.

As current Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now 33, gets up there in age, Joseph is working to one day fill the position.

The 21-year-old hit .250/.327/.420 in 28 games with Double-A Reading, and he is now one of seven Phillies prospects playing with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.

"I'm enjoying every second of it," Joseph said. "It's a lot of fun, you get to play with and against some of the greatest Minor Leaguers in the game right now."

Joseph, who is ranked No. 4 on the Phillies' Top 20 Prospects list, compiled by, is hoping to show his new club what he can do in advance of his first full season with the organization next year.

"It would be huge; not only does it tell something to your organization that you're doing well and you're getting better as you go on, but it's also a confidence booster for yourself," Joseph said. "A lot of the guys that play here go on to the big leagues. It's a huge deal."

Perhaps the most exciting venture for Joseph during his time in the AFL will be learning a new crop of pitchers on short notice. He hopes the challenge will allow him to work better in the future with arms he isn't familiar with yet.

"It gives you a new opportunity to work with a new staff and get better as a catcher," Joseph said. "Catching different guys with different stuff helps you grow."

Phillies batters in Fall League
Coming off his first full professional season, Cody Asche is attempting to make a statement in Arizona as the Phillies' long-term solution at third base. The fourth-round Draft pick in 2011 batted just .192 in Rookie ball but turned in a stellar campaign this year, batting .324 with 12 homers and 72 RBIs between time at Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

Ranked No. 18 among the Phillies' Top 20 Prospects, Asche had four hits and three doubles in his first four games with Peoria.

Zach Collier is a former first-round Draft pick who hit a career-best .269/.333/.399 in Clearwater in 2012. The 22-year-old also hit six home runs, but missed the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for an amphetamine.

The Phillies are trying to get a better look at Collier, who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in the offseason.

Phillies pitchers in Fall League
Acquired in July from the Orioles for Jim Thome, Kyle Simon made 20 relief outings in the Phillies farm system before heading to Arizona for more work.

A middle-of-the-road right-handed starter in the Baltimore organization, Simon experienced much more success out of the bullpen for Clearwater and Reading. In 39 2/3 innings, the 22-year-old allowed just six earned runs.

Like Collier, Colby Shreve is also Rule 5 Draft-eligible this winter, so the Phillies want to see more of him before they decide whether to protect him or not.

In 78 total innings between three Minor League stops this season, the righty posted a 3.69 ERA. Walks have been Shreve's biggest pitfall, as he totaled 25 this year and struck out 29 batters.

Boasting a 0.60 ERA over 44 2/3 innings in Clearwater to start the season, Tyler Knigge earned a promotion to Reading to finish 2012, leaving with a 2.92 ERA.

Striking out 70 in just 69 1/3 total innings this year, Knigge is the Phillies' top strikeout arm in the Fall League.

Jay Johnson -- The lone southpaw in Arizona for Philadelphia -- turned in a 4.24 ERA this season, mostly with Reading. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent, Johnson struck out twice as many batters as he walked in 2012.

Philadelphia Phillies