Sometimes, a text from the old man can do wonders. It did for Josh Ockimey on Friday.The 26th-ranked Red Sox prospect, using a tip from his father, clubbed two roundtrippers in the second inning en route to a 3-for-5, five-RBI night as Triple-A Pawtucket rolled to a 17-5 victory over Rochester
Sometimes, a text from the old man can do wonders. It did for Josh Ockimey on Friday.
The 26th-ranked Red Sox prospect, using a tip from his father, clubbed two roundtrippers in the second inning en route to a 3-for-5, five-RBI night as Triple-A Pawtucket rolled to a 17-5 victory over Rochester at Frontier Field.
"[Thursday], it was one of those days where you feel good, but you just don't get the results that you wanted. I kind of felt like I was a little late at the plate," Ockimey said. "My dad even texted me today; he said, 'You kind of look like you're thinking too much. Just go back to [simplifying it] and being on time.' [I] took that advice, worked on it today in the cage and felt good. Luckily, it went over into the game, too. That was the one big [adjustment] today."
Gameday box score
An eight-spot in the Pawtucket first inning was made twice as nice for the Red Sox when they matched it in the second -- and Ockimey was in the middle of it all.
Already with an RBI double on his ledger, the 23-year-old made it 9-0 with an inning-opening dinger to left field off Ryan Eades. His teammates batted around and, with two out and two on, Ockimey drilled a blast to right-center against D.J. Baxendale, extending the advantage to 16-0.
It wasn't until a few innings later when a veteran Red Sox infielder informed him he'd done something unique.
"To be real, I didn't really know that I [hit two homers in one inning] until a couple innings later," Ockimey said. "Brock Holt was like, 'Good inning, Ock.' And I was like 'Oh, wow.' Definitely, really cool thing to do. It was just one of those things where it doesn't happen at all or often. It's just nice that you can sit back and say 'Man, that was pretty cool.'"
By the third, the 2014 fifth-round Draft pick had scored three runs and driven in five. He reached one more time in the blowout, drawing a walk in the fourth. Such a performance can do wonders for one's confidence.
"It definitely shoots it up," the left-handed hitter said. "This game, you can't get too high or too low. We always talk about how many times we felt good going into the game and then you play bad or you don't get the results you want. It was one of those things where you take it and say, 'All right, that was a good day. Let's get back after it tomorrow.'"
The PawSox totaled 16 hits and drew 12 walks, but only Ockimey cleared the fence. Mike Miller reached four times, going 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Good hitting is contagious, Ockimey said.
"When the whole team's on the same roll, it brings good vibes back into the dugout," Ockimey said. "You go back in there, the next guy comes up, does his job, then the next guy, it just keeps rolling on."
Last year, the Philadelphia native mashed a career-high 20 homers between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket. But in 27 games with the PawSox, he slugged .398 and struck out in 35.2 percent of his plate appearances. Those numbers didn't improve much in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .172/.280/.250 with one homer in 18 contests.
As a lefty with a 55-grade power tool, Ockimey entered the offseason with upside but plenty of question marks, especially regarding his speed and defense. The Red Sox did not protect him from the Rule 5 Draft; he went unclaimed and instead of interpreting the move as a slight, he took it as a challenge.
"It definitely helped me out. It exposed some of my game that I needed to work on," he said. "Even going to the Fall League, too. I'll say this: I was lucky enough to get exposed and really go into the offseason and hammer out some stuff I needed to work on. I was lucky enough to have that happen to me and come back this year with a clean slate."
Among Ockimey's chief problems to address were consistency in the box, not wasting mistake pitches that become rarer at the upper levels of the Minors. This year, rather than fouling them back to the screen, he'd like to drive them.
"Sometimes you get one pitch an at-bat," the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder said.
Defensively, Ockimey knew he had to take a major step forward. So he took a minimum of 500 ground balls, sometimes 1,200-1,300 a day. He also fielded some live balls at third and shortstop to gain a better feel for defense in general.
"I'm probably not going to play short," he said, "but it's just getting a different aspect of how your feet should move and what kind of angles you have to take. It's only going to make me better."
In 13 starts at first base this season, he's committed one error and owns a .990 fielding percentage.
And he produced one special inning.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.