If you’re not familiar with the name Caleb Joseph, you’re not alone. The 28-year-old, drafted by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, made his major league debut on May 7 this season and has been playing regularly behind the dish since catcher Matt Wieters succumbed to a season-ending elbow injury.
On August 1, Joseph went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against the Mariners, dropping his batting average to .199 and his OPS to .577. Since then, though, Joseph has caught fire. His second-inning two-run home run against Cardinals starter John Lackey today was his fifth home run in his last five games. As MLB.com’s David Wilson notes, Joseph has become the 15th catcher to homer in five consecutive games. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco also accomplished the feat earlier this season, between June 20-25.
The record for home runs in consecutive games by a catcher is six, held by Walker Cooper, a catcher for the New York Giants in 1947. The overall record is eight consecutive games with a home run, accomplished by three players: Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
Including today’s 2-for-4 performance, Joseph is now slashing .227/.287/.429 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 175 plate appearances.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.
Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.
Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.
There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.