Joseph's baseball journey continues on to Baltimore. Story by John Nestor
TORRINGTON - It's been a big spring and summer for former Torrington Titan reliever Michael Joseph. It started in Vermont, continued to Torrington and has ended with Joseph signing with the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
Hard work, timing and an important trip to Nashua, New Hampshire also played a part in Joseph earning the shot to make his baseball dream a reality.
"It's been great, the Orioles have been really supportive throughout the process," said Joseph, who was en route to Michigan to see family Saturday after making the decision. "They offered me a contract on Thursday and I had been thinking about it and there were some other teams in the mix but I just feel the Orioles are the best fit."
The decision by Joseph to sign with the Orioles ended when he stopped off at a hotel to fax back the contract and end a whirlwind couple of weeks that all began with a bullpen session at the Futures Collegiate Baseball League Pro Day before the All-Star Game on July 26.
Joseph threw an impressive session in front of dozens of pro scouts. All eyes were on him, the radar gun were out and his performance - he threw 93 miles per hour - made those in attendance take notice.
He was chatted up by a scout minutes after his bullpen session and it went full steam ahead from there. Teams started calling the Titans to ask if Joseph could pitch in games when scouts would be in attendance. Others set up throwing sessions with Joseph.
The Philadelphia area native even was asked down to Citizens Bank Park to throw for the Phillies.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Joseph said. "It was pretty surreal. To go throw there having been going there for a while to see games was amazing."
The Joseph story is everything the Torrington Titans and the Futures Collegiate Baseball League want to be about. A kid gets a shot at the dream, of playing baseball for a living and maybe even making it to the Major Leagues.
The league and the Titans sold themselves as a baseball proving ground, replicating the grind of life in baseball, especially the minor leagues. Some kids didn't make it, others survived, some like Joseph thrived and took advantage of a tremendous opportunity.
"It was a great experience, playing for the Titans and being in the FCBL," Joseph said. "All I could ask for was a shot and I got it. It has been the best summer I could have asked for. (GM) Sander, (coach) Misha, the commissioner, they have all been great and helpful through this process."
Now the process moves on toward October when Joseph will report to Sarasota and Instructional ball with the Orioles in October for a month. Then it will be Spring Training, his first as a pro. In the meantime, Joseph said he will take a week or two off and then prepare himself for the first day of Instructional ball.
Joseph said after his bullpen session on Pro Day that all he wanted was a shot and he got one. Coming from a small school in Vermont, he was realistic about how many - if any at all - scouts would ever make it to Vermont to see him play.
While Joseph wasn't sure what was ahead of him as the FCBL season began, Titans coach Misha Dworkin felt he knew right away. Having over 10 years experience in professional baseball as a player, including a stint in the Houston Astros organization, Dworkin felt like he was working with a pro right away.
"We talked about it when he first got here, I saw it," Dworkin said. "It might have been about a week, week and a half into the season and I told him, I'll get you out of here. I thought it would be where he would get a lot of attention and then next year he would get drafted and then we realized he was one of those players that can sign."
Dworkin lives in Sarasota and will provide a familiar face for Joseph when down there in October and Dworkin's high school friend and teammate is a pitching coach with the Orioles organization, which should also help provide Joseph some level of comfort.
"I've always wanted to play professional baseball, make it to the major leagues, and this is an opportunity," Joseph said. "I had a positive experience with the Titans, made some great friends on the team and then when it came down to it, went with my gut and made the decision to sign with the Orioles."
There is no way to predict where Joseph will end up or how successful he'll be, but for now his baseball journey continues with Sarasota, Florida the next stop with a final destination of Camden Yards hopefully somewhere in his future.