TRENTON, N.J. — More than a year after making a mechanical adjustment, Derrik Gibson is finally feeling comfortable swinging a bat.
Gibson completed his remarkable month by going 1 for 2 with a pair of walks in Portland’s 2-0 loss to Trenton on Monday night. He hit .409 (36 for 88) in June to raise his average .323.
Gibson made the change last March in spring training while working with Red Sox minor-league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers and Sea Dogs hitting coach Rich Gedman. They reconstructed his swing to keep his hands inside the baseball.
“I felt like I always saw the ball decently and mechanics were kind of limiting me,” Gibson said. “It really helped me with being short and staying inside of the ball. Once I kind of grasped that … I didn’t figure it out but I felt like, ‘OK, I know what I’m doing now.’ Those guys helped me understand what a baseball swing is supposed to feel like.”
The 24-year-old said he finally felt comfortable with the approach entering this season, and this month has been all about applying it consistently.
“It took a while to really feel what it should feel like,” he said.
Added Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon, “He’s just more relaxed at the plate.”
Once considered a prospect at shortstop after he was selected in the second round (77th overall) of the 2008 draft, Gibson struggled upon reaching Double-A. In 2012 with Portland, he hit .225 with a .304 on-base percentage and a .272 slugging percentage. He found himself back in Double-A this season after only slightly improving with the Sea Dogs in 2013: .250/.348/.342 in 260 at-bats.
This season, though, the comfortable and confident Gibson is among the Eastern League’s top hitters, entering Monday with a .321 batting average, a .408 on-base percentage and a .403 slugging percentage.
“It makes you feel great,” Gibson said. “It feels like maybe I finally got this.”
The dramatic turnaround likely has Gibson back on Boston’s radar for promotion and in scouts’ notebooks as a trade commodity. Obviously, reaching the major leagues is Gibson’s goal, but he tries to focus on the task at hand.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” he said. “I love being with this team. I’m thankful playing every day. It’s been a long road. I’ve been in this organization for parts of seven years and this is the first time it’s starting to click for me a little bit. I just try to take it one day at a time. I’m glad I don’t have to work in a front office and make those kinds of decisions. I just try to give it everything I’ve got for one day and then move on to the next one.”
Gibson also has shown to the Red Sox and other clubs just how versatile he is, moving from shortstop to the outfield for most of this season to accommodate shortstop prospect Deven Marrero. He has played almost exclusively in center field this month.
NOTES: According to reports, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia is scheduled to make a rehab start for Trenton in the final game of the series Thursday. Sabathia (right knee) has been on the DL since May 11. … RHP Luis Diaz dropped to 2-1 in three starts with Portland after allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings.