Phillies Promote 1B Tommy Joseph; Darin Ruf Sent to Minors

Update: 3 p.m.

After tearing up International League pitching for more than a month, Tommy Joseph was promoted to the majors on Friday.

The 24-year-old first baseman is expected to be in the Phillies' lineup for his big-league debut when the club opens a series against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.

To make room for Joseph on the roster, the Phillies optioned Darin Ruf to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies' decision to bring Joseph to the majors comes just seven months after the team made a starkly different decision on the player.

In October, Joseph was placed on waivers. He passed through unclaimed, was removed from the 40-man roster and assigned to the minor leagues. He was also passed over by 29 other teams in the Rule 5 draft.

The decision to take Joseph off the 40-man roster came after he missed significant time the previous four seasons because of a series of concussions and a wrist injury that required surgery.

Joseph understood the Phillies' decision to remove him from the 40-man roster. In fact, he thought there was a chance he could be released altogether.

"I hadn't been a very reliable player," Joseph said last week. "I hadn't been a very good player. They could have easily kicked me to the curb and said I was never going to figure it out. But their patience has always been unbelievable and they gave me another opportunity to come to spring training."

Joseph was the surprise of minor-league camp and he carried it over into the regular season. At the time of Friday's promotion, he was leading the International League in batting average (.347) and OPS (.981). He was second in the league with a .611 slugging percentage. He had six homers and 17 RBIs in 27 games.

Quite simply, Joseph is looking like the guy the Phillies acquired as the centerpiece of the trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Giants in July 2012.

Back then, Joseph was a catcher. Concussions in 2012, 2013 and 2015 resulted in his being moved to first base.

"I'm finally healthy," Joseph said. "It feels great to have everything behind me. The obstacles last season were much bigger than anyone knew. Not only did I get another concussion, but I had vision issues tracking the ball."

Joseph underwent vision and eye therapy and is still committed to the program. It was discovered that he had astigmatism in his right eye. He now wears a contact lens in the eye.

In addition to improved vision, Joseph has improved his conditioning. He weighed 250 pounds when he reported to big-league camp in 2015. He was down to 225 when he reported to minor-league camp this year.

"Over the last few years I've had a lot taken away from me," Joseph said. "There's no greater feeling than being back on the field again. It's nice showing up and getting ready to play a game instead of showing up to rehab something.

"I feel like I've gotten my career back on track. I was off the track for a while.

"But there's still a lot left to prove."

That's true. He has played himself to the majors. Now he must produce to stay.

Joseph's initial role will probably be playing first base against left-handed pitching. He could see time as a designated hitter when the Phillies travel to Detroit later this month.

Ruf hit .158 (9 for 57) without a home run before being sent down. 

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