This summer was a huge stepping stone in the baseball career of Ottawa High School graduate and Los Angeles Angels outfield prospect Michael Hermosillo.
The 22-year-old Hermosillo, ranked the Angels No. 12 prospect and a 28th round selection in the 2013 draft, steadily climbed through the Angels' system. He began the season with the Inland Empire (advanced Class A), then was promoted to Double A Mobile and finally finished the season with Triple A affiliate Salt Lake City. On Nov. 21, Hermosillo was added to the Angels 40-man roster and will attend spring training for the second straight season next year.
"I would say going through this past season really helped me a lot in so many different ways," Hermosillo said. "Going from an injury to low-A then finishing at high-A in 2015 was tough. Each season is filled with ups and downs, and there are times you end up in places you've never been. This season was the first time I'd ever been in Alabama, Mississippi or Florida and the biggest adjustment for me was the hot and humid conditions in Mobile. The ball just doesn't fly and the conditions change so much from day to day. Also there was a a lot of rain, which meant no BP and a ton of double headers."
Hermosillo played just 13 games for Inland Empire, hitting .321, before being promoted to Mobile on April 24. At Mobile, he hit .248, but had 19 extra-base hits (including four homers), 26 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 77 games for the BayBears. On August 3, he was advanced to Salt Lake City where he batted .287 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 30 contests. His combined numbers over the 120 games in the three levels were .267-9-44 with 35 SB and an OPS of .763.
"The only thing I've really been superstitious about, and this started after the 2014 season, was not to pay attention at my stats at all until the final game of the season," Hermosillo said. "The most reminiscing I do would probably be my thoughts on the drive home from Salt Lake. That was the first time I really looked at what I had accomplished, but for me from there, I just kind of tried to forget the season. It was cool to look back at how far I had come from February to September. It's great talking to friends and family, having people reach out to you with congratulations. It's awesome and you definitely have to have that, to be proud of what you've done. But after (the congratulations) you start to think about the things that will help you build."
Hermosillo says his focus this offseason will just to continue to get stronger and be ready when spring training starts.
"I live in Tempe, Ariz. in the offseason, which is about five minutes away from the Los Angeles Angels spring training complex," said Hermosillo. "I've been going there since the season ended and been really working with the strength coaches to not only maintain, but to hopefully get even stronger moving into next season. This is the first season where I will be actually at the complex training all year round. I feel the is going to be a great thing for me to do Monday through Friday. It's not mandatory, it's just something I'm doing on my own to get better.
"I want to be prepared to play 140 games, and hopefully if the opportunity arises, continue into September on the big league roster. Spring training, plus a regular season schedule, takes a toll on your body, so I just want to be in the best shape and heath I can be."
Hermosillo's season had many highlights, but his walk-off 3-run home run on July 6 against the Mississippi Braves may have been the most exciting.
"That was awesome and actually the first walk-off home run that I have ever hit," said Hermosillo. "It was a 3-2 count and I was kind of in the mindset, not really selling out, but that I was going to be ready. He gave me a fastball, middle, middle-away. I had told myself before that pitch 'You don't want to regret missing this fastball." The only thing I was disappointed about was that I'd had never been in that situation so I didn't know what to do. I didn't have any cool celebration ready or anything."
The thought of becoming a Major League player, especially being so close, is something that is always on Hermosillo's mind, but he says it is something that will take care of itself if he performs to his ability.
"I have talked to so many guys that have been in the situation where they are close to the big leagues, on the borderline, or been up and down," Hermosillo said. "The advice they all had was don't get caught up in the organization signing a star guy that might play your position or how the trades they are making affect you, because at the end of the day you can only control what you can control. If I perform to the ability that I can none of that will matter. You just want to show everyone what you are capable of doing."
Hermosillo admitted he has never been one to watch a lot of baseball, even as a little kid, on television, but didn't miss much of this past postseason.
"I watched almost every game of the playoffs and World Series for sure," Hermosillo said "With me knowing a couple of guys, like Cameron Maybin, who I got to know pretty well at Salt Lake, but was traded to the Astros in early September and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, who I hit with sometimes in the offseason, made watching pretty exciting. I also grew up a Cubs fan so I was a little bit interested about how they would do. Postseason baseball takes things to a whole other level and I hope to be in that situation some day."