MLB Rumor Central: Phils to call up first-base prospect Tommy Joseph?

Veteran Ryan Howard's struggles (.177 average, .241 OBP) has the Phillies thinking about other options at first base. Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies could be looking to promote Tommy Joseph to jumpstart their struggling platoon at first base, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

The 24-year-old Joseph is currently at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and leads the International League in hitting (.368), slugging (.655) and OPS (1.096).

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has split the first base at-bats between Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf. While Howard has seven homers, he is hitting just .177 with a .647 OPS. Ruf is batting .164 with 18 strikeouts in 55 at-bats.

Joseph has played almost 500 minor league games and owns a .255/.307/.428 slash line with 69 homers. Salisbury suggests Joseph “could be an attractive bat for the Phillies as soon as this weekend.”

A promotion would further complicate the Phillies' situation with Howard, a three-time All-Star who already has seen his status with the club greatly diminished. The Phillies would love to find a taker for Howard, who will make $25 million this season along with a $23 million option for next season that includes a $10 million buyout. Any deal, of course, would require the Phillies to take a big financial hit.