Not long after Josh Ockimey had put on an impressive show in a postgame batting session, routinely slamming balls over Archbishop Carroll's fence, Kevin Schneider's cell phone rang.
A major-league scout who had been on hand was calling Neumann-Goretti's first-year coach to find about the slugger's next appearance. Did the caller also rave about what he had earlier witnessed?
"Not really," Schneider said with a laugh. "He said, 'I saw him hit balls out at Fenway Park. I experienced it firsthand before. I know what he can do.' "
Ockimey, a lefthanded slugger and four-year starter for the Saints, participated in a private workout for the Red Sox last fall. In what he described as a surreal experience, he slammed two balls over the right-field fence.
"To do that at a historic ballpark was pretty special," the senior first baseman said. "I think one of the shots measured about 420 to 430 feet."
With the amateur draft a month away, Ockimey is being watched closely by scouts and national cross-checkers. In addition to the Red Sox, representatives of the White Sox, Twins, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Phillies have been regulars at N-G contests.
In the next few weeks, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, who lives near Island Avenue and Lindbergh Boulevard in Southwest Philly, is expected to work out for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Ockimey says he tries to avoid swinging for the fences in BP sessions. "I try to hit as many line drives as I can," he said. "I just want to show good bat control."
Ockimey has committed to play at the University of Indiana, but there is talk of him being tabbed in the first 10 rounds, possibly as early as the third, of the draft.
"You hear a lot of chatter, but it's not something you can rely on," the 18-year-old said. "Right now, I'm just focused on helping my team finish the best way possible. We want a Catholic League championship and more."
From the No. 3 spot in the order, Ockimey is batting .565 (26 for 46) with 22 runs and 22 RBIs. He has 16 walks (three intentional), 10 doubles, 6 stolen bases, and 3 home runs.
"He's one of the top power hitters in the entire country," said Schneider, a full-time baseball instructor. "The strength and quickness in his hands, it's second to none. He's going to have even more power when he incorporates his lower half."
For his career, Ockimey, a key contributor in the Saints' run to Catholic League crowns in 2011 and 2012, is hitting .416 (96 for 231) with 88 RBIs, 75 runs, and 12 homers.
But Ockimey is more than just numbers. "He's a pleasure to coach," Saints assistant Joe Messina said. "It's so cliché, but he's one of the nicest kids I've been around. Because of that, you really want to see him succeed."
A strong support base is made up of parents Michael and Cathy, sister Brianna, and twin-brother Mike, who shined as a receiver in football at Bonner-Prendergast.
On Wednesday, when it closed the regular season with a 3-2 victory over Carroll at 26th and Moore, N-G announced it was retiring Ockimey's No. 30 jersey. He became the fourth player in program history to earn such distinction.
"It's a special feeling," said the Blue Division's most valuable player. "I was tearing up a little bit afterward. You think of all the hard work you put in to make it happen."
With Ockimey as a hard-hitting fixture, N-G (14-3 overall, 12-2 league) has compiled a 73-18 record over the last four seasons. "Time really does fly," he said. "It's gone by so fast."