Buffalo Bisons catcher Mike Ohlman is starting to realize his big-hitting potential in his second season of Triple-A baseball.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Ohlman hit his eighth home run of the season Wednesday to help the Bisons to a 4-1 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens.
Ohlman hit seven home runs in 251 at bats last season. He already has surpassed that total in just 94 at bats this season.
“We like to see that big guy walk up to the plate,” said Bisons manager Bobby Meacham.
Ohlman said making his swing more efficient and powerful was a priority this season.
“Maximizing my power and my potential,” Ohlman said. “I’m a bigger guy and kind of over my career people said my swing was too long. Stay short to the ball. You can be short and have a bigger swing. That’s what we worked on because I wasn’t maximizing my potential in the power category. I’m glad to have some results to show for it.”
The 26-year-old hit .280 in 54 games at Triple-A Memphis last season, his sixth full year as a pro. He spent the offseason at his home in Bradenton, Fla., and worked with his long-time coach and mentor, Dwayne Strong.
“I’ve worked with him since I was 10 years old,” Ohlman said. “It took a little bit of a learning curve for me to end up hitting .280 last year. . . . We worked on keeping the bat through the zone longer and maximizing my power. I think it’s showing. I feel good up there. I’m getting good pitches to hit.”
Ohlman’s double to the left-field wall scored the go-ahead runs in Tuesday night’s win over Toledo. He waited until the sixth pitch to get a fastball across the plate.
In the first inning Wednesday, Ohlman crushed a 3-1 pitch from left-hander Chad Bell over the 371-foot mark in left-center field. It was a two-run blast. Ohlman went 3 for 4, adding a single to left and a double off the left-center wall.
Ohlman’s average is .255. Against left-handers, he’s hitting .333 with five homers and 14 of his 19 RBIs. In 17 games at Coca-Cola Field, he’s hitting .314 with seven homers and 16 RBIs.
Ohlman was signed by the Blue Jays in November after spending the previous two seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals chain.
“It’s just work in the offseason, behind the curtain, behind the scenes, and you bring it out here and want to show it,” he said.