RubberDucks second baseman Jose Fermin credits a small adjustment with his improved hitting

Brad Bournival
For the Beacon Journal
A tweak in his stance a few seasons ago turned Jose Fermin into a better hitter and his success has continued with RubberDucks. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

Everything RubberDucks second baseman Jose Fermin has done the past three seasons, he owes to one day with then Mahoning Valley hitting instructor Jason Esposito.

Frustrated with how his season was going and not being able to get to balls that he used to, Fermin suggested tweaking his stance a bit and the results have been outstanding.

“I just remember I was hitting in the cage and I talked to the hitting coach because pitchers were throwing a lot inside to me and I couldn’t get my barrel to the ball because I was turning my back too much,” Fermin said. “[Esposito] told me that’s why you can’t get to it, so I opened a little bit more.

“I remember that first game, I hit a double to left field. I was like, ‘All right, I’m just going to keep doing this.’ I had to make a lot of adjustments. The first season I played I would swing at everything.”

Since 2018, Fermin is batting .288 (205-for-712) and has 27 doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 75 RBI.

Not bad for a hitter that batted .229 in the Arizona League in 2017.

RubberDucks second baseman Jose Fermin has struck out only six times in 82 plate appearances this season. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

“He has made a lot of strides,” RubberDucks manager Rouglas Odor said. “His bat to ball ability is way above average. He only has five or six strikeouts. He’s putting together quality at-bats. He’s driving balls to the gaps.

“What’s impressive is that he has been hitting second, once in a while leadoff, sometimes at the bottom of the lineup, but his approach is the same. His effort is the same. He doesn’t change his approach. Some players find that difficult to do.”

Interestingly enough, when Odor has Fermin in the bottom half of the lineup, the 2015 international free agent has produced. He’s hitting 17-for-54 (.315).

With runners in scoring position, the 22-year old is lethal. He sports a .571 batting average with .647 slugging percentage and 1.361 OPS.

He and shortstop Tyler Freeman have become almost inseparable as Fermin has mirrored some of the same things his teammate has done and found success.

In shrinking his zone, Fermin has found he can do more damage.

Instead of trying to drive everything like he did when he joined the Cleveland organization, Fermin has found that by eliminating pitches he can do more damage.

“I have had to shrink my zone more and try to get more pitches that I can do more damage,” he said. “I used to pull the ball more and working with Tyler Freeman he lets the ball travel the other way. Just working with him, I learned to hit the ball the other way and that’s where I’ve seen such an improvement. I try to get pitches I can drive and eliminate pitches away and inside.”

What’s more, he challenges himself in batting practice by simulating game situations and doing things as simple as fouling off pitches to give himself that game feel.

What he has found is certainly working for the RubberDucks.

Fermin entered Friday with a .294 batting average and a .385 on-base percentage.

The right-hander has a .368 slugging percentage and .752 OPS.

Fermin has the lowest strikeout rate of any Double-A Northeast player with at least his number of plate appearances six strikeouts in 82 plate appearaces.

 “It’s cool to see the results early so far this season,” Fermin said. “The staff has done a good job of helping us and giving us the resources. We get video data from the pitchers that day and that helps.”