N-G's Ockimey a big-time slugger

Josh Ockimey is batting .565 for Neumann-Goretti. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Josh Ockimey is batting .565 for Neumann-Goretti. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 09, 2014

Not long after Josh Ockimey had put on an impressive show in a postgame batting session, routinely slamming balls over Archbishop Carroll's fence, Kevin Schneider's cellphone rang.

A major-league scout who had been on hand was calling Neumann-Goretti's first-year coach to ask about the slugger's next appearance. Did the scout rave about what he witnessed?

"Not really," Schneider said with a laugh. "He said, 'I saw him hit balls out at Fenway Park. I experienced it firsthand before. I know what he can do.' "

Ockimey, a lefthanded slugger and four-year starter for the Saints, participated in a private workout for the Red Sox last fall. In what he described as a surreal experience, he sent two balls over the right-field fence.

"To do that at a historic ballpark was pretty special," the senior first baseman said. "I think one of the shots measured about 420 to 430 feet."

With the amateur draft a month away, scouts and national cross-checkers are watching Ockimey closely.

In addition to the Red Sox, representatives of the White Sox, Twins, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Phillies have been regulars at Neumann-Goretti games.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, who lives in Southwest Philadelphia, is expected to work out for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in the next few weeks.

Ockimey said he tries to avoid swinging for the fences in batting practice.

"I try to hit as many line drives as I can," he said. "I just want to show good bat control."

Ockimey has committed to the University of Indiana, but there is talk of his being selected in the first 10 rounds, possibly as early as the third, of the draft.

"You hear a lot of chatter, but it's not something you can rely on," the 18-year-old said. "Right now I'm just focused on helping my team finish the best way possible. We want a Catholic League championship and more."

From the No. 3 spot in the order, Ockimey is batting .565 (26 for 46) with 22 runs and 22 RBIs. He has 16 walks (three intentional), 10 doubles, 6 stolen bases, and 3 homers.

The school announced Wednesday that it is retiring Ockimey's No. 30 jersey.

"He's one of the top power hitters in the entire country," said Schneider, a full-time baseball instructor. "The strength and quickness in his hands, it's second to none. He's going to have even more power when he incorporates his lower half."

Ockimey, a key contributor in the Saints' run to Catholic League crowns in 2011 and 2012, is hitting .416 (96 for 231) with 88 RBIs, 75 runs, and 12 homers in his high school career.

But Ockimey is more than just numbers.

"He's a pleasure to coach," Saints assistant Joe Messina said. "It's so cliche, but he's one of the nicest kids I've been around."

Ockimey has a strong support base, consisting of parents Michael and Cathy, sister Brianna, and twin brother Mike, a receiver in football at Bonner-Prendergast.

With Josh Ockimey as a hard-hitting fixture, Neumann-Goretti (14-3 overall, 12-2 league) has compiled a 73-18 record over the last four seasons.

"Time really does fly," he said. "It's gone by so fast."


robrien@phillynews.com

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