"This [has], offensively, been a weird year for me, up and down," Sean Ochinko
said. "I've driven in runs, hit home runs and hit extra base hits like I have; my production is good. It's just my average isn't where I want, but I know there's some time left in the season for me to still accomplish my goals."
Ochinko said he's been putting too much pressure on himself to succeed. Dunedin batting coach Ralph Dickenson agreed. Dickenson remarked how in high school, Ochinko must've had things easy on the field; otherwise, he wouldn't have gone to Louisiana State University to play college ball. There, he was an accomplished hitter as well, but now in his third season as a pro, things have been tough.
"What's gone on with him is that he's result-oriented at the time, for most of the season, and has to get a hit. In the process of having to get a hit, you put the pressure on yourself, and when you don't get the hit, you go crazy, and that's where he's been for most of the year," Dickenson said.
"Now he's gotten it back in perspective and his work ethic has improved big time and chances are that he's gonna be okay for the rest of the year."
At 23-years-old, Ochinko is certainly not the youngest player on a high-A squad, but is still in the early stages of his career. For a young player, getting over a slump of this magnitude can be difficult. Ochinko acknowledged how tough it has been, but said he is working through it.
"This is a mental game. It's been an up and down battle for me," he said. "I've learned a lot and I've really battled and I really try to grind to the season and work extra hard, and hopefully at the end of the season, my results are where I would hope they would be.
"That's why I try not to look at my stuff in the middle of the season. At the end of the year is when I look back and I judge the season; not with 45, 50 games left."
With 11 home runs, 48 RBIs and 20 doubles, Ochinko has maintained solid power numbers throughout the year. Dickenson commented that as the team's designated hitter, more power needs to be shown.
"He's gotta hit for more power than he does to be one of those guys, for sure, because that's what comes with the territory. He's in the process of learning that," Dickenson said. "He's been an upper body hitter and a muscle guy in the past.
"That worked for him all the way up until this year, so now he's trying to tone that down and get his lower half involved, shorten up his swing yet get more power out of it. It's a work in progress."
Ochinko finds more time at DH than in the field almost by default. The 5-foot-11, 205 pound righty can play third base, first base and catcher, but with A.J. Jiminez as the team's backstop, former first-rounder Kevin Ahrens at third and Jon Tally at first, Ochinko only gets spot starts in the field. He said he doesn't mind his role as a utility player.
"That's pretty much been my role up to this time in pro ball and that's what they want me to do, be a utility guy," Ochinko stated. "I've taken a lot of ground balls at third, a lot of them at first, I've caught a bunch of bullpens and played all of those different positions in the game, so I'm pretty much comfortable at any of those spots. It doesn't matter to me as long as I get my name in that lineup."
As the second half of the season rolls on, Ochinko said he wants to improve the two major aspects of his game; defense and hitting.
"[I want to] continue to get better at my defense at third, at first and behind the plate because that's been something I really need to work on," he said.
"I feel I've taken strides in that and I've become a much better defender up to this point than before the season started, and just cap it off with driving in a lot more runs and hopefully finish it up with a strong offensive season where I have a lot of good production."
Hitting for average hadn't posed a problem for right-handed Sean Ochinko in his first two seasons of professional baseball. He hit .324 for Auburn in 2009, and then .311 for Lansing last year. Currently with a .241 batting average in 307 at-bats for high-A Dunedin, however, this season has been a struggle for Ochinko.
Sean Ochinko, who put up serious numbers in his first two years, is working through a tougher year.