Want to bring a smile to Josh Ockimey’s face? Say two words:

Super Bowl.

“Fun game to watch,” said Ockimey, one of the top Boston Red Sox hitting prospects, and a Philadelphia native. “Big Eagles fan.”

For other football fans in New England, mention of the Eagles’ 41-33 win over the Patriots in February may open wounds. Ockimey means no harm.

“Both sides played well,” said the Portland Sea Dogs’ first baseman. “How many yards did (Tom) Brady have? He’s probably the greatest of all time.”

Ockimey, 22, is either a gentleman or someone aware he’s employed by a New England team – or both.

Ockimey comes across as the stereotypical gentle giant (a solid 6-foot-1, 215 pounds). He’s a soft-spoken man who visits his Catholic grade school back home every chance he gets, checking in on the priests, nuns and kids. His Twitter account features a daily message that simply says, “Good morning.”

So we know he’s kind.

Ockimey is also strong.

“He has ridiculous raw power,” said Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Greg Norton.

Now all the Red Sox must do is make sure Ockimey maximizes that power while becoming an accomplished hitter.

The potential is there, which is why Ockimey is ranked among the top position players in the Red Sox organization. Both Baseball America and soxprospects.com rank Ockimey the third-best hitting prospect behind Michael Chavis and Sam Travis. Other prospects, including Bobby Dalbec (Salem third baseman) and C.J. Chatham (Greenville shortstop) are ranked close to Ockimey.

The Red Sox don’t look at rankings, just the possibilities. There’s a lot to like with Ockimey.

“Good strike zone awareness. Big left-handed, power bat,” said Sea Dogs hitting coach Lee May Jr. “You can’t go out and shake a tree and all those guys fall out.

“The way he projects, this is a guy you can put in the middle of your lineup.”

Boston can project after a day like April 19, when Ockimey stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded at Hadlock Field. He worked a 3-1 count, looked for a fastball and got it. The pitch came in at 91 mph. It left the ballpark at 107 mph. The grand slam was estimated to travel 411 feet.

It was only Ockimey’s third game in Portland this year. He was held back in spring training with a slightly strained hamstring. After 13 games through Thursday, he still has one home run while batting just .214 (but with a .365 on-base percentage).

“He’s just a couple of weeks into this season,” May said. “He just hasn’t hit his stride yet.”

Last year, with 100 games in Salem and 31 in Portland, Ockimey hit a combined .274 with 14 home runs.

“I don’t think, as of yet, you really concern yourself with power numbers, per se,” May said, “as opposed to just getting acclimated to playing at the higher level and making good, hard, consistent contact, and let the chips fall where they may. He’s still in the development process.”

Ockimey was a fifth-round draft choice out of high school in 2014. If he had gone to college and was drafted after his third season, Ockimey would now be in his first full pro season, in Class A.

So patience is called for, and confidence. Ockimey works on his positive attitude, beginning with his daily “Good Morning” tweet – “it started in high school as a superstition,” he said. “Now it’s something for me to flip the page. It’s another day for baseball. What happened yesterday is in the past.”

Then there are the three words he writes inside all his baseball caps:

You. Belong. Here.

“If I’m doing badly, I still belong here,” he said. “I have the talent to be here. I put in enough work to be here.

“If I ever have one doubt. I go back to my positive, mental side … Constantly getting over those bad thoughts. A lot of good things happen when you simple things up.”

Ockimey credits Justin Su’a, one of the four mental skills coordinators employed by the Red Sox, with helping him see the (positive) light.

As for his power production, Ockimey must use the same approach – keep it simple.

“I’ve been told plenty of times there are certain spots and certain situations you get to show your power. Other times you just run into some balls,” Ockimey said.

Ockimey always has played sports. He gave up football early but stayed with basketball and baseball. From Blessed Virgin Mary School in Darby, Pennsylvania, he moved on to Saints Neumann Goretti High School in Philadelphia, a national powerhouse in basketball.

“They were very good,” said Ockimey, who left basketball to become a one-sport athlete.

Baseball suited Ockimey. He received a scholarship to Indiana University, then the Red Sox signed him with a $450,000 bonus.

Besides his power, he’s improving in the field; offseason footwork drills are paying off.

This could be a key season for Ockimey. He’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the fall unless the Red Sox put him on the 40-man roster. If Ockimey has a breakout year, Boston would have to protect him.

After all, left-handed power hitters don’t just fall out of trees.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.