After Alan Farina, our top reliever on the list at #37, comes a catcher at heart turned corner infielder at #36…
#36: Sean Peter Ochinko
C-3B-1B / 23 years old / 5′11″ 205 lbs
Born: October 21st, 1987 in Parkland, FL
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School Team: Stoneman Douglas Eagles
College: Louisiana State University
Drafted by: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round (340th overall) of the 2009 First-Year-Player Draft
Jersey Number: #41 for the Lansing Lugnuts
- Majored in general studies at LSU
- Favorite hobbies include fishing, golf, ping-pong, and billiards
- If he wasn’t a baseball player, his dream career would be a “professional bass fisherman”
- Invited to play in the inaugural Cape Cod High School Classic, where he played with current Blue Jays prospect John Tolisano
- 2006 Puma preseason All-American
- One of Baseball America’s Top 300 High School Players of 2006
- Played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2007
- The Red Sox won the CCBL Championship that year, and Giants phenom Buster Posey was one of Ochinko’s teammates
- Finished as the 2nd best hitter on the Y-D Red Sox, going 39-for-124 (.315) with 8 HR, 23 RBI and .971 OPS, on top of being named to the CCBL All-Star team
- 2007 Freshman All-SEC and Second-Team All-Louisiana
- 1st in games, at-bats, hits, and doubles
- 2nd in runs, RBI, and total bases
- 3rd in home runs
- 3rd in batting average, and played twice as many games as the people ranked above him
- 4th in slugging percentage
- 6th in on-base percentage
- 7th in walks
- Pre-game with Lugnuts announcer Jesse Goldberg-Strassler here.
Extra Information and previous experience:
After a breakout 2009 season with the LSU Tigers, the Blue Jays decided to select catcher/first baseman Sean Ochinko with their 11th round pick of the draft that year.
After having successful college seasons with LSU from 2007-2008, Ochinko really started turning heads in his junior year in 2009. Playing on a team that included fellow 2009 Blue Jays draft pick Ryan Schimpf (5th round, 160th overall), Ochinko belted a .333/.395/.513 slash line along with 15 doubles, 9 HR and 57 RBI in 65 regular season games. He managed to hit for average, but also for power in spurts through hitting a home run in 6 of 7 games from March 3-11 that season, including grand slams in consecutive games.
Known for his exceptional leadership, Ochinko certainly led by example that year, finishing as LSU’s top hitter in postseason games with a .362 average, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, and 13 RBI. Ochinko’s efforts helped the LSU Tigers win the 2009 College World Series. Needless to say, the Blue Jays did not feel it was necessary to see Ochinko play another year at LSU, so they snatched him up when they had the chance in the 2009 draft.
Despite not drafting a pure bat last year, the Blue Jays considered Ochinko, along with LSU teammate Ryan Schimpf, to have a good swing and the strength to hit immediately. Ochinko signed almost immediately after being drafted and only had four days off before he reported to the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League for the remainder of 2009.
While the Jays had high hopes for Ochinko, no one could have foreseen the kind of season the 11th round pick had with Auburn in 2009. In 52 games with the Doubledays, Ochinko boasted a .324 batting average and .908 OPS, along with 20 doubles, 6 home runs, and 32 RBI. He ranked in the top 3 of virtually every batting statistic on the entire Doubledays roster, and was one of the top hitters in the entire NY Penn-League, where he ended up finishing 2nd in batting average and OPS. Ochinko’s performance was perhaps the best professional debut out of the Blue Jays’ 2009 draft class.
Ochinko obviously earned a promotion to Class-A Lansing in 2010, where he had to learn some new things. The biggest adjustment was, like every other player going from short season ball to full season ball, playing in twice as many games during the year, but Ochinko also had to learn a new position: third base.Ochinko had grown up a catcher/third baseman, but was used as a catcher/first baseman in college with LSU.
Given the surplus of quality catching prospects but lack of third base prospects in the Blue Jays system, the Jays opted to have Ochinko play 22 games at third base this season. He finished with a .926 fielding percentage, which was the lowest among his three positions he played in 2010, but it prepared him for an increased role at the hot corner in 2011.
At the plate, Ochinko continued his hot streak from the year before. In 109 games with the Lugnuts this season, Ochinko compiled a .311/.360/.459 slash line to go along with 8 home runs, 65 RBI, and 37 doubles. His strong showing in all aspects of the game with Lansing earned him the R. Howard Webster Award for being the most valuable player at his Minor League level. It was Ochinko’s second consecutive Webster Award after winning it with Auburn in 2009, and he became the 23rd player in Blue Jays history to win two Webster Awards.
Ochinko attributes his early hitting success through hitting the ball with backspin, saying that he has been working a lot since his teenage years on hitting the inside of the ball and really listening to his coaches.
Expected 2011 Team: Hi-A Dunedin
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Everyday 1B/C
With Ochinko being ticketed for Hi-A Dunedin to start the 2011 season, his positional versatility will definitely be an asset for him going forward.
He will likely get the bulk of his playing time at first base, with Michael McDade likely moving up to Double-A to take David Cooper‘s place as it stands right now. The Dunedin roster is crowded at catcher, with A.J. Jimenez likely to earn the bulk of the playing time, with the rest split between either Yan Gomes or Travis d’Arnaud. John Tolisano, Kevin Ahrens, and Jon Del Campo are all penciled in at third base for Dunedin next year, but Ochinko could easily take over if he continues to swing the bat like he has in his first two professional seasons.
All in all, Sean Ochinko is yet another Blue Jays prospect that is definitely worth keeping an eye on in 2011!