After being selected as a No. 1 draft pick (11th overall) in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft by the Florida Marlins, outfielderJeremy Hermida was one of the most highly-touted prospects in the sport.
He made his major league debut on August 31, 2005 with the Marlins in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first major league at-bat, Hermida belted a grand slam off of reliever Ray King, becoming just the second player in history to accomplish such a feat. He was the first to do it as a pinch-hitter.
Unfortunately, things just never really panned out the way many expected them to.
In parts of eight seasons in the majors, Hermida has hit .257 with 65 homeruns and 250 RBI in 632 career games. His best season came in 2007 with Florida when he hit .296 with 18 longballs, 63 RBI and 32 doubles.
“I came up with the Marlins and was with them from 2002 to 2009 so it was the only organization I knew,” Hermida said. “Since then it’s seems like I’ve bounced around the past few years.”
On Nov. 5, 2009, Hermida was traded to the Boston Red Sox for minor league pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez. Since then he has spent parts of seasons with Oakland, Cincinnati and San Diego.
An experience that might seem frustrating has actually been intriguing to Hermida.
“It’s interesting switching organizations,” Hermida said. “You get to meet new people and learn all the new faces. It’s pretty cool getting a chance to play with other guys, guys you’ve played against in the past. It’s funny how your path crosses with a lot of guys that you never think it would.”
Now at age 29, the once rising-star has found his way into the Indians organization. Hermida was signed by Cleveland on Feb. 4, 2013 to a minor league contract.
A lackluster spring training eliminated him from earning a bench role with the Tribe. The outfielder hit just .188 with no home runs or RBI in 16 at-bats in Arizona. He was reassigned to minor league camp on March 5.
But so far, Hermida feels comfortable in his new home.
“You know, I’ve enjoyed playing in Columbus,” Hermida said. “This is a great town, a great place to play. It’s a good group of guys and we’ve had a good time so far. I always enjoyed playing here as a visitor and it’s definitely a city that’s grown on me.”
The outfielder made quite a first impression.
In his Clipper’s debut, Hermida jacked a grand slam to give Columbus a 4-0 victory on April 4 against the Indianapolis Indians.
As it appears right now, that performance has set the tone for his season.
Hermida has arguably been Columbus’ best hitter in the early-going. He leads the team in homeruns (5), RBI (20), runs scored (14), walks (17) and total bases (48). His 16 game on-base streak, tied for the longest such streak by a Clipper this season with fellow outfielder Tim Fedroff, ended Tuesday.
Hermida said the key to his early success has been his constant work ethic.
“It’s just trying to be consistent,” Hermida said. “Just going out there and getting your work in everyday and trying to be a consistent hitter. There’s always something to work on and me and Phil (Clark) are always in the cage right before the game trying to fine-tune some things. There’s a long way to go but we’ll see.”
Although he is playing at a high-level at the moment, Hermida said that he needs to continue to polish and tweak his skills. To him, there’s no such thing as good enough. You can always do better.
“I think there’s always things you’re trying to refine and work on,” Hermida said. “I don’t think you ever stop wanting to become better in certain parts of the game. I don’t think anyone ever masters an aspect of the game. You always got to work on something. Whether it’s base running or outfield stuff or hitting, there’s always room for improvement. So I think as soon as you get content, it’s a bad sign.”
Although Hermida would almost certainly like to get a crack at the majors again, he’s learned through experience that everything comes a step at a time.
“I learned a long time ago not to look too far ahead,” Hermida said. “You can only control what you control here and every situation can change in a matter of days. So just come out here, have some fun and try to work on what I need to work on and everything will take care of itself.”