The Cincinnati Reds acquired Connor Joe in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday afternoon. They selected him with the #6 pick in the draft. In order to keep him, the Reds must have him on their 25-man roster all season in 2019.

Connor Joe was the Pittsburgh Pirates 1st round pick (supplemental) in 2014. He was traded to the Dodgers before the 2018 season. During the year he split his time between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit well in both places.

In Double-A Tulsa, the 25-year-old hit .304/.425/.554 with 16 doubles, a triple, 11 home runs, 38 walks, and 57 strikeouts. He moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City and just kept on hitting. In 49 games there he hit .294/.385/.494 with 10 more doubles, two more triples, and six more home runs. He also walked 22 times with 31 strikeouts.

Defensively he has been a corner infielder and outfielder throughout his career. In 2018 he played 62 games at first base and another 38 at third base. The intriguing part is that he was listed as a catcher, and according to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper – he’s spent a little time there, just not in games. As of now there’s no word if the Reds plan to try and get him action behind the plate or not.

The plate discipline is certainly nice to see. In his career, Connor Joe has 196 walks and 268 strikeouts. He seems to have a good grasp on the strikezone. He’s always been old for whatever level he was playing at, though. There’s a chance he could be a good utility guy who can cover you at all four corner spots on the defensive side of things, too.

On the flip side, until 2018, he’s never really hit. His best OPS prior to 2018 was a .743 mark that he put up as a 23-year-old in the Florida State League. In 2017 he had a .659 OPS as a 24-year-old in Double-A. The Texas League and the Pacific Coast League are both considered to be hitter friendly, and that’s where he spent his 2018 season. After never hitting more than five home runs in a single season, he hit 17 last year.

With that said, there could be a reason he started showing more power. Connor Joe began hitting the ball in the air more. In both 2015 and 2016 his groundball rate was 47%. In 2017 it was 44%. Last season that dropped to 38%. Perhaps he’s another player who figured out that hitting the ball in the air is better.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Reds lost Taylor Grover. They had recently just signed him out of independent league baseball, where he topped out at 102 MPH. The Reds pick up $24,000 from the Orioles in that transaction. Unlike the Major League version, there is no “must stick to the roster” situation here. The Orioles will keep the rights to Taylor Grover unless they choose to release him.

The Reds also lost pitcher Rafael De Paula. He pitched in Double-A and Triple-A this season. He posted a 3.41 ERA in 58.0 innings with 30 walks and 73 strikeouts between his two stops. The Atlanta Braves picked him up. He, like Taylor Grover, was selected for $24,000 and doesn’t have to abide by any set of roster rules.

42 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    Seems like a solid pickup.
    Low risk.
    Seems to be a bit better then a lottery ticket.

  2. Krozley

    It seems Joe had back problems early in his minor league career which may have lead to his late development. If he could be a Javy Valentin type 3rd catcher, he could have value as he at least has position flexibility and the ability to get on base with maybe some power. Otherwise, just seems like a Kivlehan/Dixon type. I think I would rather have seen them keep Dixon who still had options. Probably a good chance he is returned to the Dodgers.

  3. kevinz

    I like that Connor can take a walk. Seems to control the Zone. That is always a good start. Even when his ave was low he still walked. Could be useful.

  4. redlegs4ever

    Not only are we not #GetThePitching we’re #LosingThePitching!!

    Haha kidding, but on a serious note, I find it absolute bull honkey the Orioles can poach a guy in the minor league phase that we just signed like a month ago.

    • Colorado Red

      In the AAA phase you can protect another 38 players.
      So the Reds must not have protected him.

      • redlegs4ever

        So oversight by the Reds or is there really 38 eligible players they thought better of??

      • Keith

        The guy is almost 28 and was pitching in independent ball. Probably not an oversight by the Reds. He’s been available to many teams for a long time.

      • redlegs4ever

        28 year old independent ball pitcher is a rather ill informed take considering he showed up this summer throwing 100+. Obviously the Reds and now Orioles both thought enough of him.

        I would love to know the list of 38 players that were protected from this phase, this certainly feels like oversight on the Reds part.

      • Bill

        Oversight … really? The Reds front office is not filled with incompetent people.

    • MK

      It was a nice little fundraiser to pay a day of Joey’s contract. The Reds signed him for nothing and got $24000 for him. Nice return on investment for a couple weeks. Who knows maybe the Reds agreed to make him eligible for the draft so he would have a better chance at big leagues. How dumb were Orioles when they could have signed him to a 40-man spot a couple weeks ago for nothing. Guess that is what happens when you don’t have a GM. Great move by Reds.

  5. Champ Summers

    You have to wonder what Turner Ward’s impact was on this pick.

  6. redlegs4ever

    So oversight by the Reds or is there really 38 eligible players they thought better of??

  7. Optimist

    May be reading too much into this, but is losing Grover basically free cash for the Reds? I mean, if they didn’t sign give him some sort of bonus, don’t the O’s pick up the contract AND pay the fee to the Reds? Thus, the fee is simply found money? Sure, perhaps small potatoes, but also a small indicator of the scouts/analytics staff getting ahead of the game.

  8. Nep O'Tism

    I look at picking up Connor Joe the same as I look at all utility guys who are going to play for league minimum.

    Can’t be worse than going into the season with Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington! (And paying them $2.75m, no less.)

    • Oldtimer

      Gosselin and Pennnigton were experienced MLB INF last spring. Neither worked out but both were better than anyone Reds had at AAA level in ST 2018.

      • Reaganspad

        I disagree Old-timer. Blandino was better than both

        Some managers like Dusty and Price have to have a guy who is a veteran regardless of the tools they posses. They have no imagination to manage young players. Dusty had a hole in LF for years and never ever put a glove on Mesoraco’s hand and said go take some fly balls.

        Gosselin was an extension of that same thought. Dixon was better than both as well in that he had power.

      • Oldtimer

        Blandino WASN’T better than both in ST. He was unproven and it showed. I spent most of a full week at ST. I watched all 3 play.

      • earmbrister

        The Dusty doesn’t play youngsters parable is nonsense. As for Meso not playing LF for Dusty: in EIGHT MLB seasons, and 3,297 innings, Meso has exactly ONE inning played somewhere other than catcher, and that was 1B. In eight minor league seasons, and 3,326 innings, Devin had THIRTEEN innings played in LF (all in 2015!) and no innings anywhere else but C. The 2015 experiment was very short lived.

        Meso should’ve played in LF? Really?

      • Reaganspad

        If Mesoraco were a cub during his career, do you think that he would have been strictly a catcher? Well yes during Dusty’s reign, but not under Maddon

        Dusty Price sat him waiting for his turn at catcher. He was an all star with a bat that would play in LF. Even old-timer can remember Yeager/Ferguson platoon between RF and Catcher.

        Just takes some imagination. Like our new manager being open to Lorenzen playing in CF.

  9. The Duke

    I will never refer to Joe by his first name. He is now and forever Bazooka Joe to me. Honestly, he has a shot to be the last guy on the bench for the Reds this year. Backup the corners, be a power bat off the bench.

    • RedsinWashst

      He has more power then Blandino and walks more. Blandino is better defensively and back-up for 2nd and SS.

  10. AirborneJayJay

    If the Reds are going to utilize an 8 man bullpen, that will only leave 4 bench spots. After a backup C, that leaves only 3 bench spots going forward. Those 3 players will all have to have some position versatility to them. Joe makes a good candidate. With Brandon Dixon gone, Joe looks like a little better version of Dixon at the plate. Blandino will be looked upon I assume as 1 other bench spot. They will need an OF that can play all 3 spots, and that looks like Ervin, at least for now.

    Why haven’t they traded Hunter Greene yet? (wink)
    Indians aren’t afraid to trade top prospects. Francisco Mejia in July and now Yandy Diaz. They have, however, held onto their top pitching prospects Beiber and McKenzie.

  11. Norwood Nate

    It’ll be interesting to see if he can stick on the roster. I am always leery of power numbers out of PCL or Texas leagues. Even more so when it’s drastically different than what he did before those leagues. I’d guess it’ll be difficult to keep him around all year.

  12. Gaffer

    Remember our new pitching coach is the old a Dodgers one. He probably knew something!

  13. Simon Cowell

    Even with this pick the Reds winter meetings activities falls flat. I give them an overall score of D-. They picked up a bench player and a #4 or #5 starter. The net gain is probably no more than 4 wins.

    • earmbrister

      Gimme a break. I had the winter meetings on TV for most of the week. Hardly ANYTHING was going on throughout MLB. The coverage was horrific at times as they futilely tried to fill their TV time.

      The worst was the naming of the top 5 most handsome managers. Painful.

      Years ago, the winter meetings were packed with deals because the trading deadline coincided with the end of the meetings. There was a blackout period following the meetings, so teams and players had to hustle to complete deals.

      Furthermore, with Harper and Machado unsigned, many teams are in a wait and see mode; waiting for one of them to be signed to start the dominoes a fallin’.

      As for your grade of D- for the Reds winter meetings, CBS gave them an A:

      “The Reds added Tanner Roark to help improve their rotation at the cost of a walk-prone relief prospect. That’ll work. Dick Williams and company need to keep adding as they make a push toward relevancy.”

      They gave the NYY a B, even though they technically didn’t complete ANY transactions (the Happ deal is not a done deal). They gave about a dozen teams N/A’s because they didn’t have any transactions at all, or even a noteworthy rumor.

      Ole Leatherpants attributed the lack of movement to the more brainy FO’s of today’s baseball. 16 GM’s are Ivy League graduates, and they’re surrounded by rooms filled with intellectual advisors. Teams don’t want to rush into bad transactions when there is no impending deadline.

      Again, the deep pocketed NYY’s ALMOST re-signed a 36 year old Happ to a 2-3 year deal, but otherwise did not get any other deal done. Hardly earth shattering for a team that typically sets the market.

      • Simon Cowell

        How many wins do you think they have improved themselves by? Do you think that our new starter is going to give us more than 3 or 4 additional wins?

      • earmbrister

        I didn’t question or complain about your estimate of additional wins due to the acquisition of Roark (and Joe). I questioned your grade of a D- for the Reds. I’ll even agree that your estimate of the increase in wins (</= 4) due to these 2 transactions is probably a reasonable estimate. The point is that they improved the team this week.

        The Reds got a mid-rotation starter for the minimal cost of a low level prospect. In doing so, they strengthened the 2019 rotation. I don't understand the gripe of your and others.

    • Colorado Red

      I give them an Incomplete.
      While it is a nice start, we have to see what happens the rest of the offseason.

      Many a trade are completed after the winter meeting, and before ST.
      Time will tell, could be an A or F.

    • Redsvol

      by your own logic, they picked up 4 wins by sending out a relief pitcher who flunked his mlb test for a proven starter and paid $50k for a potential bench piece…..and you’re disappointed?

      There are 27 other teams that did less than the Reds did at the winter meetings.

    • Scott C

      If you grade on the curve the Reds get an A, but even if you don’t grade on the curve the Reds did reasonably well. They made a good deal for Roark, an established starter for a minor league reliever. Yes maybe Rainey will figure out the control issues and become a top end of game reliever, but that is a big MAYBE. They picked up what looks to be a decent bench piece which could be an upgrade over last year. Again, a big MAYBE, but the cost is only $50,000. And they possibly set up some big deals, the Reds were talked about on multiple trades during the whole winter meetings. If none of those work out, then maybe you grade them out as a B-. If one or two of those bring big upgrades then you have to give them an A maybe an A+.
      More and more I am beginning to believe that Williams and Krall have what it takes to be a great FO team.

  14. sixpack2

    We need a #1/2 starter (Gennett traded here as to open up 2nd) and I think Jones for CF if we can get reasonable for two years (we have some great young kids coming). I think we would have become competitive for wins in the 80’s.

    Joe looks like a Bench fit.

    • AllTheHype

      Adam Jones is not a CFer. The Orioles played him out of position there for the last 3 years and he’s been near bottom rated defensively. Overall, given his minuscule OBP, declining power, and poor defense, he’d be a pretty sharp downgrade from Billy at CF. He’s not an option.

    • sixpack2

      I know Jones is not a good CF, but is a FA with passing ‘O’ My thought was getting him cheap without giving up any of our top 6 could get us to those up and coming and Jones then could share or go to a corner.