Former Titan Mike Joseph starts Orioles career. By John Nestor
Former Titan Mike Joseph starts Orioles career
Mike Joseph is back in Vermont for now, but he is looking forward to a return trip to Florida in the not too distant future to resume his professional baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles.
Joseph spent nearly a month this fall in Florida at Baltimore's Fall Instructional League at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The goals of the program were to focus on specific individual development while providing additional playing time to accelerate a player’s progress through the minor league system.
From September 12th through October 12th Joseph got a taste of pro ball, working on all aspects of his game as a pitcher. He was the only player in the camp who did not spend the summer in the Baltimore farm system, but the adjustment came pretty naturally.
"We started up right away and I got used to routine pretty quickly. It was not too bad a transition," Joseph said.
Transitions are nothing new to Joseph as he came from Middlebury to the Titans and then opened eyes and doors with a strong showing at Pro Day at the FCBL All-Star Game. The move to the Orioles organization was just the next step for Joseph, who learned there will be more to his success than throwing hard.
"We worked a lot on mechanics and the mental approach of attacking hitters," Joseph said. "Each pitcher got in a game or maybe two a week and when you were not in the games you were working on bullpen sessions, lifting and conditioning was a big part too."
While at camp, Joseph also got to work with Rick Peterson, Baltimore's pitching coordinator and the former pitching coach for the Oakland A's, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. The 58-year-old Peterson is well regarded and is a candidate to become pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox next season.
"Rick was a great guy to talk to, he knows as much as anyone and was really helpful," Joseph said. "I got to work with him a pretty good amount, he was there when I was throwing bullpens and he'd talk to you after your stint in games."
Joseph said he spent a lot of time working on his two-seam fastball to get more sink out of it down in zone to induce more grounders. The Orioles emphasized location inside the bottom of the strike zone even more more than velocity.
"It seemed everyone there could throw at least in the low 90s," Joseph said. "It was really about hitting spots and changing speeds and being strong mentally."
But mechanics and pitches weren't the only thing Joseph learned about in his first stint with the Orioles, he also learned something about himself. Coming from a small school, Joseph had something to prove with the Titans in the FCBL and he did it.
Back in the same boat at Instructional League, Joseph acquitted himself well, appearing in four games and pitching six scoreless innings.
"The main thing I learned is that I can compete at this level," Joseph said. "I was pretty nervous going into it but it was a huge thing for my confidence and I really am excited about playing in the spring."
For now, Joseph is back at Middlebury College, taking classes and working out. He'll head down to Florida sometime in late February and look to build on what he started this fall.
"The first game I pitched in I came in for the ninth and had a 1-2-3 inning and struck out the last batter," Joseph said. "I really felt like it was the start of something."