His performance, in which he became just the third NYPL player since 1967 to lead the circuit in both batting and homers, earned him the George M. Trautman Award that is given annually to the league's top player.
Four years later, however, Fermin found himself in a difficult position at the end of Spring Training when it became clear to Marlins management that he was not going to have the opportunity to continue developing as a catcher. Instead, they approached him with another option: how about taking a shot at becoming a pitcher?
"We had that conversation with him, gave him a night to sleep on it," said Marlins director of player development Brian Chattin. "He came back the next day and kind of liked the idea, so we made a change."
The season, and Fermin's pitching career, is just five weeks old, but his transition to the mound has encountered a few rough patches. The athletic right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA in 13 appearances. In his last six outings, from July 12-24, he has allowed six runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Marlins management remains unconcerned, however, as long as he continues to grow comfortable in his new role.
"This first year, because it's so new, we're just looking for a little bit of a feel to how a delivery works, a little bit of repeatability in the delivery and hopefully a little bit of the arm strength we saw as a catcher translating onto the mound," said Chattin. "So if you can get a repeatable delivery and you can show a little bit of stuff that you can look at to potentially grow and develop with, then we're satisfied with the first year."
While expectations are understandably low, Fermin's performance has been a pleasant surprise in at least one area: his ability to throw strikes. He's walked just four batters and struck out 11 in 14 1/3 innings this season.
"He's been in the zone from the first day we put him on the mound and has really shown an ability to fill up a strike zone with not just his fastball, but also his slider," said Chattin, noting that Chris Hatcher, who underwent a similar conversion last season and has appeared in 13 Major League games for the Marlins as a pitcher, demonstrated the same early aptitude for throwing strikes. "That's a real encouraging sign that we weren't expecting this early."
Off the field, Fermin impresses those who interact with him on a daily basis by maintaining a consistently positive attitude even with his professional career at an uncertain juncture.
"Fermin is the type of guy who always has a smile on his face," said Scott Eddy, who was Jamestown's director of baseball operations and media relations in 2008 and has served as the team's play-by-play broadcaster since 2009. "He was like that in 2008 and he's like that now, even though I'm sure things have not gone as planned and he's back in the NYPL four years later. His love of the game and being at the park is always written all over him.
"Even with the language barrier, that kind of thing just rubs off on all of his teammates."
Two million satisfied customers: The Tribune Chronicle reported that the Mahoning Valley Scrappers are expected to welcome the franchise's 2,000,000th fan this week. Wednesday's crowd of 2,831, the first of a six-game homestand, left the team about 3,900 fans shy of the milestone.
Comeback kids: The Hudson Valley Renegades trailed Staten Island, 8-0, on Monday before scoring seven runs in the seventh inning and two in the ninth for a walk-off, 9-8 victory. They did it again two days later, turning a 9-3 deficit through six into a 12-inning, 10-9 win over Tri-City. Marty Gantt scored the winning run against the Yankees and drove in the deciding tally against the ValleyCats.
A tale of two offenses: Between July 16 and July 20, Jamestown was held to three hits or fewer in four different games. They fought back in a major way July 23, scoring 13 runs in the second inning en route to a 19-2 win over Auburn. The team's previous high for single-game runs scored this season was 12, against Vermont on July 12.