Connor Joe had a few personal goals coming into the 2021 baseball season: he said he wanted to stay healthy, be a good teammate and find a way to make it back to the big leagues. He now wants to prove that he can stay in the big leagues.
Joe was signed to a minor league contract this past offseason and was called up on May 7, 2021. It was his first time on a big league roster since early 2019, having spent 2020 battling testicular cancer. Now Joe has really shown the value he adds to the Rockies roster, and while he said he has to wait until the end of the season to evaluate whether he accomplished his goals, fans surely think he has made an impact.
Rockies fans have really welcomed Joe into Denver. You can hear fans chanting “JOE! JOE! JOE!” after a great at-bat or when he makes a beneficial defensive play. And if you spend any time on Twitter during a game, he is constantly being praised for his accomplishments.
“I’m so grateful for all the fans and the way they’ve embraced me,” Joe said. “You know I look around the locker room, there’s a couple guys that are saying they’ve never seen someone embraced like I’ve been and I don’t know what it is, or what I did to deserve that, but I’m really grateful for it and it definitely helps. It brings energy, it gets us going — it’s really cool.”
And while the general energy the fans bring helps ignite the team, Joe doesn’t feel as if milestones, or singular moments like hitting his first home run, are what get him going.
“It’s kind of just a moment in time,” he said. “I like to say ‘stacking moments’ is my thing. It’s just working hard, putting together moments like that and continue stacking them on top of each other.”
Stacking moments is something Joe has done well since late July. His first Major League home run came on July 20th and since then, he had a two-home run game on August 8th and his homer count is now at seven.
“At the plate, [I’m] just kind of finding ways to use the data and the information that we have,” he said. “[I want to] use it to help me and not clutter my mind, but to be a benefit.” Since the All-Star Break, Joe is slashing .311/.382/.600 — whatever he is doing, it’s working.
Offense isn’t the only area where we’ve seen Connor Joe excel. Joe is a hard worker and brings the versatility the Rockies need. He has been finding success as an outfielder as well as playing first base, and has enjoyed playing both positions.
“I played first base more coming up in the minor leagues,” Joe said, “but with all the work I’ve done in the outfield, I feel comfortable out there.”
Even Rockies manager Bud Black has praised Connor Joe for being a hard worker, saying, “He’s trying to make a statement. I mean, simple as that. And he’s working his butt off at first base, he’s working his butt off in the outfield.”
When asked what areas of his game that he’s really worked on this year, it’s not surprising that he talked about spending time in both the outfield and infield.
“[On] defense, I’ve been working really hard every day at batting practice. [I] take a couple rounds in the outfield, a couple rounds in the infield, do different throws... Live reps off the bat are really what’s going to help me.”
JOE! JOE! JOE!— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) August 17, 2021
What a catch by Connor Joe! pic.twitter.com/vWMO5elNAU
Not only is Joe working hard and finding ways to make an impact, he is also going into it with the right mindset. In 2021 the Rockies have really struggled on the road, but Joe doesn’t let that get to him.
“Baseball is such a long season,” he said. “You’re going to have ups and downs. I don’t think we can get too attached to a road series... It’s kind of just one of those things where we shut it off, [and] turn the page.”
Joe is certainly taking advantage of every opportunity presented to him and is finding ways to prove he is an everyday player. From his mindset after a tough road series to his work ethic, he has made his presence known this season. His versatility to play both the outfield and infield is a benefit and gives him more opportunities to see more playing time.
As the 2021 season winds down, it will not be surprising to see Joe continue to stack moments and work hard and find himself on the lineup card more frequently. And while Joe still needs to finish out the season to properly evaluate whether he hit his goals this year, if he continues to perform like he has since the All-Star break, he has definitely proved that he can stay in the big leagues.