Future promising for Ruf, Joseph
By Eric G. Stark, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mick Billmeyer delivered the news to Tommy Joseph on March 5, telling the young catcher he was starting the next day behind the plate.
"I was like, 'All right, cool, who do we have pitching?' " Joseph asked. "He was like, 'You have Doctor Halladay.' … I slept fine, but the next day the nervous definitely set in."
"Oh yeah, they call him Doc for a reason," Joseph said about catching Roy Halladay. "It was something special. It was cool. Once we got into the bullpen I think my nervous kinda went away."
Both Joseph and outfielder Darin Ruf got valuable playing time this spring, and both young players should make an impact in the near future with the Phillies, if not later this summer.
Joseph, who came to the Phillies last summer via a trade with the Giants for Hunter Pence, is a 21-year-old catcher who is developing a strong defensive game to go with a power bat.
Ruf, 26, surprised many last year with his burst of power, hitting a club-record 38 home runs at Double-A Reading, three more with the Phillies and 10 in a 32-game winter ball stint in Venezuela.
"I became comfortable with my routine," he said. "Everything fell into place and felt consistent, and as a hitter that's the main thing you are striving for, a repetition to make it a habit and that is kinda where I got to last year."
Ruf's power convinced the Phillies to move him from first base -- blocked by Ryan Howard -- to left field. He got off to a slow start offensively this spring, hitting .246 with two home runs. Defensively, Ruf still has some work to do in the outfield.
Though he was sent down to minors March 22, Ruf understands there is a bigger picture to be concerned about.
"You are always fighting to keep a job, fighting to win a job, fighting to earn a job," he said prior to a game March 6. "That is how you have to approach the game."
Joseph approached this spring as a learning tool. Considered the team's top position prospect, he hit .462 with one home run in 13 at-bats.
"I want to learn from everybody here and take away as much as I can and get as much playing time as I can," he said.
"The biggest thing is to catch everybody and get comfortable with everybody," said Joseph, who wants to be prepared in case he gets called up. "You just can't stop working."n