Connor Joe’s world has been spinning a mile a minute for the last three years since he was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but not like it has in the last 18 months.
The former Poway High and University of San Diego standout first thought he was headed to Pittsburgh to realize his dream of being a major league baseball player.
Then he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2017.
Joe also got married after the 2017 season.
But proving that baseball is a here-today, gone-tomorrow business, Joe was left off the Dodgers’ protected list this offseason and on Dec. 13 was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 Draft of minor leaguers.
“This a great opportunity because the Reds are on the uptick of rebuilding by getting younger,’’ the 26-year-old Joe said. “The Dodgers gave me a chance to develop my skills a little bit. That turned my career around.
“I was preparing hard for spring training anyway, I just didn’t know which team I’d be with.’’
Under the draft rules, the Reds paid the Dodgers $100,000 for Joe, who was immediately placed on the Cincinnati’s 25-man major league roster. He must stay on the major league roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Dodgers, who can reclaim him for $50,000 after he clears outright waivers.
Joe, who can play first, second or third base and was a catcher at USD, could sign with a minor league team if no team or the Dodgers decline to take him back.
“There’s no reason for spring training to be more pressure,’’ Joe said. “I just have to play baseball, which I was going to have to do anyway. I have to compete for a job.
“This makes this spring extremely exciting because I’ve worked my whole life to play in the big leagues. Thanks to the Reds, I’m real close to that dream right now.’’
Last season at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, Joe hit .299 and showed some new-found power with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs.
“He’s going to come in with a chance to compete for a job in spring training,’’ Reds’ General Manger Nick Krall said in a press release. “Our guys like him. He made some improvements this year with his swing and approach. He had a really excellent year.’’
Joe, the West Coast Conference player of the year at USD after his junior season, would see his salary jump quite a bit to the major-league minimum, which will be $545,000 this season.
“I feel like I belong in this moment,’’ Joe said. “I’m quite confident. People may see that as cocky, but you have to play with an edge.’’
Joe was home making breakfast after his morning workout when the phone rang. His agent informed him about being drafted. The next call went to Joe’s dad.
“He was shocked,’’ Joe said. “A couple of minutes later, his emotions got the best of him because he knew the implications of what had just happened.
“I’ve been chasing this dream for a long time. It’s been a lot of everything along the way, including sacrifices by a lot of people starting with my parents.’’
Joe, who has never been to Cincinnati before, will begin his push to be in “The Show’’ in Goodyear, Arizona when the Reds start play in the Cactus League, Feb. 23 against the Cleveland Indians.
“I told Kylie after the Dodgers left me unprotected, maybe it was a good thing,’’ Joe said. “Maybe we’ll look back on it one day as the best thing that could have happened.’’
As long as it winds up with Joe finally being a major leaguer.