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Post-hype prospect to watch: Connor Joe, Los Angeles Dodgers

After two trades, former first-rounder hopes to have permanent home

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Fall Stars Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers utility prospect Connor Joe, not to be mistaken with turn of the 20th century big league catcher Joe Connor, has played just over 300 minor league games, but already has his legacy tied to four of the 30 major league teams.

Drafted 39th overall in the competitive balance portion of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, that pick originally belonged to the Miami Marlins. Of course, the Marlins traded the prime draft slot for relief pitcher Bryan Morris. (Who was actually solid for the Fish over a season and a half, but is now unemployed.)

A corner infielder and corner outfielder, Joe dealt with a back issue and was a non-factor in 2014 after being drafted. Debuting in 2015, he primarily assumed the corner infield spots in his first two pro seasons, jumping from first to third base in year two.

In his first taste of the minors, he walked 50 times in 80 games for Low-A West Virginia. The University of San Diego product handled a full-season debut placement well enough to deem his future headed in the right direction.

Moving to High-A in year two, he had a promising 2016 and looked to be on the right track. He hit .277 with a .351 OBP, but did slug just .392. At age 24, he was naturally pushed to Double-A in 2017.

He continued to draw a ton of walks for Altoona, but wasn’t doing much else and the Pirates felt comfortable enough dealing him in August to the Atlanta Braves for super-utility big leaguer Sean Rodriguez.

The Braves kept him just a month, dealing him to the Dodgers for international signing money.

Now 25, with 26 coming hot in August, it’s increasingly difficult to remember Joe is still an inexperienced minor leaguer with a legitimate shot at realizing his draft-projected big league future. With the Dodgers, he has received an important second —er, third— chance to get his pro career going.

Slotting in at Double-A Tulsa to begin 2018, Joe has so far split time at the corner infield positions. Predominately manning third base, he’s off to an excellent start for the Drillers through 20 games.

He’s hitting .318 and already has 15 walks, totaling an eye-popping .447 OBP. But we know he can do that. He’s done it at every level, and location, he’s been.

The biggest development is his power. As a corner fielder, Joe has always profiled as a potential power threat. But that had yet to be realized, having hit no more than five in a year.

Well, this season, he has seven long balls. Already, he’s set a career-high. In just 20 games.

It’s little to go on, but Connor Joe has valuable prospect history. He was a first-round pick and has already overcome an injury as well as two trades. The Dodgers may have bought great low value here and added another piece to their National League pennant winning organization.