Looking for production at second base, Athletics call up hot-hitting Corban Joseph

Joseph was batting .371 with the Las Vegas Aviators

Oakland Athletics’ Jurickson Profar (23) flies in the air after throwing out Texas Rangers’ Asdrubal Cabrera (14) at first base during the eighth inning of their MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, July 28, 2019. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
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SAN FRANCISCO — He goes by CoJo, mostly because people he meets often switches Corben Joseph with Joseph Corban.

“Just a little reminder, Corban goes first,” Joseph said. For now, Joseph will play second for the A’s. The 30-year-old left-handed hitter will bat seventh against Giants right-hander Tyler Beede on Wednesday afternoon, and this could be routine against right-handers in these final weeks of the season.

“We’re just trying to do the best we can from the position, with a guy who’s swinging a hot bat and has been the entire year,” manager Bob Melvin said. “When you have that kind of year, and we’re maybe not getting as much production as we want out of that position, you look somewhere else.”

Second base has been a bit of a black hole for the A’s, with Profar currently stuck in a strange offensive pattern in which timely home runs sprinkle a .148 average over his previous 20 games.

Franklin Barreto was poised to take over the lion’s share of starts at second, but just couldn’t match his minor league numbers once he took the batter’s box. The pressures to perform had the A’s highly-touted prospect pressing, he struck out 18 times and hit .106 in 17 games with Oakland and the lion’s share waned down to a demotion.

Jorge Mateo — who’s batting .295 with 17 home runs in Las Vegas this year — looked to be next on the road to find the A’s starting second baseman of the future. But Joseph’s production was worth a pitstop.

Joesph has been toiling around minor league ballparks from Scranton to Trenton and Syracuse to Bowie since 2008 with just 16 big-league games to show for it. But, in his 12th year at the highest level of the lows with triple-A Las Vegas, Joseph clicked. His averages has peaked at .400, hovering around .370 upon his call-up on Wednesday. He has 13 home runs and a career-high 73 RBI in 97 games with Las Vegas.

Aviators manager Fran Riordan approached Joseph during a pitching change in a game against Omaha; the hot hitter had gone hitless with a walk so far, and the manager had some ribbing in him.

“We joke around on how tough the PCL is,” Joseph said. “It’s a three hit minimum, if you don’t get those three hits you’re definitely not playing the next day. We’re just talking about how tough the league is, 0-2 with a walk wasn’t going to cut it.”

Joseph wasn’t playing the next game for the Aviators. Between innings, Riordan told him he’d be packing his bags for the Bay Area.

The A’s designated Beau Taylor for assignment to make room for Joseph on the 40-man roster. There is some depth at catcher in Oakland, with Josh Phegley set to return from a thumb injury soon and Chris Herrmann and Dustin Garneau as the second and third options. A’s top prospect Sean Murphy has been injured, but could be set to return to action soon enough.

Taylor could be an upgrade at catcher for some clubs, but the A’s are hoping he’ll clear waivers and remain with the team.

“Very tough, hopefully he clears,” Melvin said. “I have my fingers crossed on that one.”

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