The power has always been present in Josh Ockimey’s swing. It was a skill that scouts graded a 70 on a 20-80 scale when Ockimey came out of high school in 2014, good enough for his name to be called in the fifth round of the draft that year.
It’s now Ockimey’s eighth year in the Red Sox system. He entered Wednesday with 95 career minor league home runs and a .791 OPS. Ockimey has hit just .236 this year in 309 plate appearances for Triple A Worcester but with 14 homers. His OPS of .806 is second among active WooSox players behind Franchy Cordero (.914).
Yet Ockimey understands his flaws.
“Certainly you want to control those highs and lows,” he said. “Everybody gets hot and everybody gets cold. And I think that’s what makes the best hitters are the ones who control the lows.
“That’s certainly what I want to do a little bit more is just control those lows, and really focus on what makes me hot. What keeps me hot, and be able to provide and produce those numbers that I guess people are looking for.”
Like many power hitters, Ockimey is prone to striking out and hot and cold streaks. Entering Wednesday, he had struck out 101 times this season. After hitting .306 in August, Ockimey had just a .182 batting average in September.
Still, the numbers have a way of balancing out for Ockimey. But is that enough to garner the attention of the Sox brass? To this point, it hasn’t been.
In 2017, Baseball America ranked Ockimey 10th in its top 30 list of Red Sox prospects. In 2019, he was 21st. In 2021, at the age of 25, Ockimey isn’t ranked at all.
He has grinded his way through the minors, but for now his chances of reaching the majors with the Sox seem bleak.
“To be honest, it does cross my mind,” said Ockimey. “But the one thing I feel like I do a good job of doing is not letting it get to me. Just because I know that’s something I can’t control.
“That’s what they tell us, like, don’t play GM because it takes your focus off the game and what makes you good. So the No. 1 thing I try to do is just take care of what I have to do on the field.”
While Ockimey poses a threat at the plate, he can be a liability at first base, still grading as a below-average defender, which could be what’s holding him back.
When the Sox needed help at first base earlier this season because of the underwhelming performance of Bobby Dalbec at the plate and in the field, Ockimey, who isn’t on the 40-man roster, wasn’t an option.
Now, Dalbec is surging, hitting .341/.432/.768 with nine home runs since Aug. 1. First baseman Triston Casas is coming on for Double A Portland, launching five homers in a recent three-game span.
Ockimey, meanwhile, is sandwiched between the two in Triple A, leading many to believe that if he were to get a sniff at the big leagues, it would be with another team. One American League executive thinks Ockimey can still reach the majors, believing his lefthanded power bat will continue to intrigue clubs, even if it’s not the Red Sox.
Additionally, Ockimey has shown a knack for hitting lefties this season, batting .297/.398/.541 with five homers in 87 plate appearances, possibly making him more valuable to a big league club.
“There will be a time when my time comes,” Ockimey said.