The journey to the ranks of Major League Baseball for Connor Joe of the Colorado Rockies has been filled with its share of twists and turns.
But Connor Joe has taken each setback and success along the way in stride to put himself in position to be a key contributor for the Colorado Rockies.
The journey continues.
Since being recalled from the Albuquerque Isotopes — Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate — on July 20, heading into Friday’s contest, Joe has gone 13-for-37 with the parent club for a sparkling .351 average in 11 games.
“I am feeling really comfortable up there (at bat),” said Joe, who has collected three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI in 11 games since his latest recall.
Joe slammed his third homer of the 2021 season as part of a 2-for-4 night in Colorado’s series-clinching 6-5 victory Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs.
“I am just trying to take the most of my opportunities and have good, consistent at-bats,” he said.
But success at the Major League level hasn’t come easy for the native of San Diego, whose first professional action was in eight games (15 at-bats, .067 batting average) for San Francisco in 2019.
Then Joe did not play a year ago after he announced in March 2020 that he had testicular cancer, resulting in surgery and treatment during the campaign.
In spring training this year, Joe showed flashes of his ability but was hampered by injuries. Despite not making the Opening Day roster, though, Colorado manager Bud Black saw signs in Scottsdale — the Rockies spring training home — that Joe had the tools to contribute to the Rockies.
“We saw it in spring training,” Black said. “We saw a guy who has a good approach and controls the strike zone.”
So, Joe began the 2021 season with Albuquerque. After a solid early showing for the Isotopes, he was awarded with a promotion to the Rockies.
Joe had a great start to his initial appearance with the Rox. He now has reached base safely in 18 of 19 games as a starter this season. But after plateauing during his inaugural stint, he was sent back to Albuquerque before his return to Colorado last month.
“We brought him back and he has played very well,” Black said about Joe, who is now hitting .285 on the season with 15 RBI for the Rox in 27 games played. In 102 plate appearances, he has grounded into only one double play.
“The bat speed is Major League-quality. He uses the whole field. He will take his walks. I like that the power is showing up. There has been a Minor League home run in his past and now that power is starting to show up in the big leagues, which is a good thing.”
Besides his success on offense, Joe has shown his versatility on defense being used both in the outfield as well as at first base.
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“He has done a nice job for himself to prove to us that he is … a Major League player,” Black said.
Joe realizes the position he is in now and the arduous road he has taken to get to the Major Leagues.
“It’s been quite the journey,” he said. “I don’t look back at it all the time. But when I do …
“Honestly, a big part of the reason why I am having the success I am and why I am able to show up to the ballpark with such a good attitude and play the game with joy is because, being away from it for a year, I really missed it. Then being able to walk into a ballpark every day, it’s amazing. You can’t beat this. It’s great.”
Black also sees how Joe’s journey to make it to — and remain in — the Majors is displayed daily in his player’s love of the game.
“He is in a good spot for sure,” Black said. “He is playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of joy. Usually when you are playing with that type of feeling, good things happen.”