CONNOR JOE, FIRST BASEMAN
|Born: August 16,1992
Drafted: 1st Round, 39th Overall, 2014
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of San Diego
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates selected Connor Joe with the 39th overall pick and announced him as an outfielder. He played first base during his first two seasons at the University of San Diego, before moving behind the plate during his junior year. Joe also played right field and occasionally played first base this year. As a catcher, he was described as very athletic, with good speed for the position and an average arm, but there were questions about whether he’d be able to stay there. If he’s going to play outfield, then that gives him average speed and defense. He has good strength, a quick bat and excellent plate patience, which led to a lot of doubles, plus more walks than strikeouts in 2014. He projects to hit for average and at least doubles power. He is obviously more valuable if he can stay behind the plate. Baseball America had him rated 102nd overall, which makes him a significant overdraft, especially if he ends up playing a corner outfield position. Joe signed a week and a half after the draft for $1,250,000, which was $207,600 below the slot amount.
Joe suffered a back strain before he reported to Jamestown and spent the remainder of the summer rehabbing.
The Pirates were very cautious with Joe’s rehab. He didn’t appear at West Virginia until May 11 and got numerous days off once he did start playing. He didn’t exactly struggle at the plate. He had a low strikeout rate and drew a lot of walks, although for an experienced college hitter in low A that’s not generally a strong indicator. What he didn’t do was hit the ball with much authority. On defense, although he played some at third during spring training, he played only first base for the Power.
Joe was the primary third baseman at Bradenton. He played third exclusively and struggled defensively, which isn’t a huge surprise. He had 25 errors and an .892 fielding percentage, and didn’t show good reactions at the position. Once Wyatt Mathisen returned from his shoulder injury, he saw time at third, and Chase Simpson played there some as well, as the Marauders were overloaded with corner players. As a result, Joe played in only 107 of the team’s 134 regular season games. He did, however, stay healthy. At the plate, he got off to a bad start. He had a .582 OPS in April and .688 in May, and struck out in a quarter of his ABs while seeing his walk rate drop sharply. In June, he started hitting, posting a 306/386/428 line the rest of the year. His plate discipline returned, as he had 32 walks and 43 strikeouts, less than one every five ABs. Joe crushed LHPs, with a 1.011 OPS, but posted only a .641 mark against RHPs. All of Joe’s numbers have to be considered in the context of the Florida State League, which is the best pitchers environment in the minors. The league had only a 250/321/356 slash line on the season. McKechnie Field in Bradenton played as the league’s best hitters park a few years ago, but that hasn’t been true in recent seasons. Joe had a .796 OPS at home and .696 on the road.
The idea of having Joe catch appears to be a thing of the past, but it remains to be seen where he’ll play in the future. It’s open to question whether he could play third in the majors, which would mean a move to first or an outfield corner, where there’ll be more pressure on his bat. He’ll go to Altoona in 2017, where he’ll need to continue his progress at the plate from the last three months of 2016. With Wyatt Mathisen also there, Joe will probably play primarily at first. He’ll be 23 for most of the season, which is an OK age for the level.
|2017: Minor League Contract
|Signing Bonus: $1,250,000
MiLB Debut: 2015
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2017
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 5, 2014: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round, 39th overall pick; signed on June 16.|