Because Joseph is considered a key Phillies prospect, he has been assigned to the Arizona Fall League, which is considered the graduate school of candidates for big- league rosters. The Phillies are part of the Peoria Javelinas, one of six teams competing this fall in the Phoenix-area Cactus League.
Playing with teammates from the Reds, Mariners, Padres, and Twins, Joseph - who joined the Phillies from the Giants on July 31 as part of the Hunter Pence trade - is sharing time behind the plate with Seattle prospect Mike Zunino, the 2012 Golden Spikes award winner from the University of Florida and the Mariners' No. 1 pick in this year's draft of first-year players.
For Joseph, the experience competing against other top prospects could not have come at a better time.
"With the expensive pitching staff in Philadelphia, I better be ready for this assignment," Joseph said last week. "This is a great experience because it tells me the organization has trust in me. I have great coaches, like [former Blue Jays all-star Ernie Whitt], helping me. And if [the Phillies] didn't think I had something, I would not be here. Right now, I'm not focusing on any one specific aspect but learning more about the game and game situations."
If Joseph has an inside track to the majors, it will likely be with his glove.
"Tommy may get to the majors with the help of his bat, but he will stay there because of his defensive ability," said Peoria manager Dusty Wathan, a former catcher who was also Joseph's manager at double A Reading. "He has a strong arm, but we widened his [batting] stance. . . . He's very coachable, and I'm confident he can catch at the major-league level."
Joseph was 2 for 16 with one RBI through the Javelinas first 12 games. But he was not concerned.
"The stick will come around," Joseph said.
As a catcher out of Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Joseph was drafted by the Giants in the second round, 55th overall, in the 2009 selection of first-year players. And even though the talented Buster Posey is the Giants everyday catcher, Joseph said he was optimistic he would play eventually play somewhere.
"I was not worried about Posey and regarded [being] drafted by the Giants as a new opportunity," he said. "It was a great chance to just play the game and learn. My dream was always to play in the major leagues, and I considered this the first step."
Joseph started his quest by signing with the Giants, and he was assigned to Augusta in the Sally League. At the A level, Joseph showed some pop and by 2011 was playing for San Jose in the high A California League. He hit .270, with 33 doubles, 22 home runs, and 95 RBIs in 127 games.
Then came the trade to the Phillies.
When the Giants lost Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension, they sought outfield help for the stretch drive and traded outfielder/first baseman Nate Shierholtz, pitcher Seth Rosin, and Joseph to the Phillies for Pence on July 31.
After the deal, Joseph was assigned to Reading, where he appeared in 28 games - two at first base - and hit .250 with eight doubles, three home runs, and 10 RBIs in 100 at bats. Next season, he could see time at triple-A Lehigh Valley if he does not stick with Reading.
In 2012, 32-yard-old John Suomi, 22-year-old Sebastian Valle, and Tuffy Gosewich shared catching duties for Lehigh Valley. Suomi hit .265 in 64 games. Valle batted .192 in 65 games, and Gosewich ended the season in the Toronto organization.
For now, Joseph will concentrate on developing in Arizona.
"We have three catchers, and [Zunino] will get more playing time" for the Javelinas, Wathan said. "But certainly Tommy will get in there, too. We're here to develop players and watch them reach the major leagues, whether it's with the Phillies organization or another organization."