Ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Connor Joe has been working to get to the big leagues.
It appears the San Diego native will finally get that shot. A trade from the Reds to the Giants may have smashed open the door for Joe.
"It was exciting," Joe told KNBR 680 on Saturday when asked what his initial reaction was to the trade. "I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back with a team on the West Coast ... that's closer to home is an amazing opportunity for me."
Joe attended Poway High School in San Diego, and then went to the University of San Diego. The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 39 overall draft pick on Joe in 2014 and then traded him to Atlanta in August of 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. A month later, the Braves shipped him to the Dodgers. This past December, the Reds claimed Joe in the Rule 5 draft.
Then the trade to the Giants happened on Thursday.
Joe knows San Francisco well. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Joe made plenty of trips to the Bay Area to face the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara. He told KNBR's Marty Lurie that his sister lives in San Francisco, and that he traveled upstate with his dad for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.
"It's a great city, I love it," Joe said. "It's a little different speed than I'm used to in San Diego, but I'm really excited to be there and really excited for this opportunity."
The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. After hitting just 11 home runs his first three minor league seasons, Joe crushed 17 home runs last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City and finished the year with a .299/.408/.527 slash line.
What led to his improved play?
"For me, I think the biggest thing was allowing my athletic abilities to come out and not being trapped in a certain way that people wanted me to be," Joe said. "So, I told myself to be athletic in the box, out in the field and saw really positive results from that."
One of the aspects that made Joe attractive to the Giants is his versatility. He has experience at first base, third base, left field and right field. But he doesn't have a preferred position.
"I can't tell you what I am," Joe said. "I'm a baseball player. It's something I've done throughout my career, starting in college, so I'm used to bouncing around from game to game, even inning to inning."
Things can change in a hurry, but considering that the Giants acquired him a week before Opening Day, it's safe to say they envision him on the roster.
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Guess where the Giants open the 2019 season? Yep. San Diego.
Imagine if Joe is able to make his major league debut in his hometown in front of his family. What a story that would be.