Cubs outfielder Michael Hermosillo has had a non-linear path back to the big leagues. In the midst of a roller-coaster career, he kept searching for an approach at the plate that would help him take the next step.
Hermosillo got his first opportunity in the majors with the Angels in 2018 at 22. He’d have cups of coffee the next few seasons, but he was never able to stick on the big-league roster, spending most of his time in the minors before becoming a free agent in November.
“I’ve definitely gone through growing pains in my career,” Hermosillo told the Chicago Sun-Times. “A lot of ups and downs to try to find who I was as a player.”
But Hermosillo’s road back brought him to his hometown Cubs last offseason. The work he’d started before leaving Los Angeles and the information he received with his new team were exactly what he needed.
He knew something had changed, and after a few tweaks with some of the new information, he began producing some eye-popping numbers and put himself on the team’s radar.
Hermosillo, who starred in baseball and football in downstate Ottawa, was having the best offensive season of his career for Triple-A Iowa, slashing .306/.446/.592 with 10 doubles and 10 home runs in 43 games before joining the Cubs on Aug. 17.
If it wasn’t for a hamstring injury that forced him to go on the injured list in late July, there was a chance he could’ve been called up sooner.
“Lots of work,” he said. “And a lot of the work started when I was still with the Angels. When I got to the Cubs and got around the staff here, they showed me some different things. Things I was good at.
“If you talked to some of the people who were helping me with the Angels, I don’t think they’d be surprised.”
One of the areas in which Hermosillo saw his greatest improvement was in his power at the plate, and his mix of power and speed is one reason that he’s still an intriguing talent.
“For sure,” he said. ‘‘They showed me what some of my strengths were and areas where I could get stronger. One of the things they showed me that really helped was the counts that I do a lot more damage on.”
A common theme this season has been players thriving in their first shot with the Cubs who haven’t had success in some places or haven’t gotten an opportunity.
With so many at-bats available as the season winds down, several have started to put themselves on the map.
Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom are the two biggest examples. Ortega has been one of baseball’s best leadoff hitters. Wisdom has become a serious power threat every at-bat and is only one home run shy of tying the Cubs’ franchise record for a rookie.
“I know what I can do, and other people know what we can do,” Wisdom said Saturday. “I think there’s a reason why we’re here and why we’re playing.’’
At 26, Hermosillo still has a chance to get things going entering what is considered to be the prime years of his career. And after watching what Wisdom, who had been written off, and others have achieved, he has no problem being considered a late bloomer.
“What Patrick has been able to do with this opportunity is incredible,” Hermosillo said. “There’s a chance for all of us to do that and make a name for ourselves despite our previous stops.
“If you look around the game, it happens all the time. Every year, there are guys who have had to find their spot in different places and have had lots of success. I feel like this is a good chance for me to do that.”