Fernando Alfredo Seguignol
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 230 lb.
- High School Almirante de Bocas del Toro High School
- Debut September 5, 1998
- Final Game September 28, 2003
- Born January 19, 1975 in Bocas del Toro, Bocas del Toro, Panama
In the Yankee chain
Fernando Seguignol was first signed by the New York Yankees 10 days after his 18th birthday. He was assigned to the 1993 GCL Yankees and struggled, batting only .217/~.259/.311 as an outfielder. In 1994, the teenager improved to .289/.335/.432, though he struck out 61 times in 266 AB. He led the New York-Penn League with nine triples that year.
Up and down in the Montréal organization
In 1995, Fernando was shipped prior to the season to the Montréal Expos with cash in exchange for John Wetteland. While the trade was motivated by the order given by ownership to Expos General Manager Kevin Malone to move four expensive players in order to lower the Expos' payroll, it also indicated that Montréal thought well of the prospect. He played his first season in a full-schedule league and slipped to .208/~.254/.344 with the Albany Polecats of the South Atlantic League, whiffing 141 times; one outfield mate was even younger, as 19 year-old Vladimir Guerrero was one of Albany's top stars. The third flyhawk was a former #1 draft pick, Chris Schwab, who would never pan out.
The 1996 season marked a slight improvement for Seguignol, who hit .239/~.319/.356 for the Delmarva Shorebirds of the same league, though he whiffed 126 times and was caught in 13 of 25 steal attempts. At age 22 in 1997, Seguignol showed good power for the West Palm Beach Expos, hitting .254/~.300/.454 with 27 doubles, 18 homers, 83 RBI and 129 K's. He had more than twice as many homers as any of his teammates on a club that included Orlando Cabrera, Michael Barrett and Jose Fernandez. He led the Florida State League with 14 sacrifice flies and tied for fifth in home runs.
Development as a power threat
In 1998, Fernando split the season between 1B and the OF and at three levels, homering 33 times to establish himself as a prospect. He batted .288/~.355/.601 with 25 HR and 69 RBI in 80 games for the AA Harrisburg Senators, .257/~.331/.495 in 32 games with the AAA Ottawa Lynx and .262/.304/.500 in 16 games as a September call-up to the parent club. He led the Montreal farm system in long balls, was picked as the #7 prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America and the same publication dubbed him the top power prospect and most exciting player in the EL that year. Despite his limited time in the EL, he tied for second in homers, six behind leader Calvin Pickering.
Ottawa and Montréal, Ottawa and Montréal, Ottawa and Montréal
Seguignol had a fine year for Ottawa in 1999 (.285/~.366/.580) and had a .257/.328/.486 line in 35 games in Montréal, in late June, early July and September. He hit 28 homers overall and his OPS+ with the Expos was 100, but Rondell White and Guerrero were the corner outfielders and young prospect Brad Fullmer manned first. Seguignol's defense was sub-standard at all three positions, which also reduced his appeal in spite of his potent bat. Yet, the Expos had soured on Fullmer, because of his defensive limitations at first base, and Seguignol should have been next in line to take over the position. However, General Manager Jim Beattie decided instead to trade Fullmer for veteran Lee Stevens before the next season, leaving Seguignol with no place to go.
Fernando split 2000 between Ottawa and Montréal, serving as a frequently used pinch-hitter and backup outfielder/first baseman and slugging .512 in the majors. He hit .277/.352/.560 in his 41 games for Ottawa. His 18 homers that year were an indication primarily of reduced playing time (303 AB). In 2001, he struggled in his limited major league playing time (only .140/.185/.180 in 46 AB, almost entirely in the hardest role in baseball, that of pinch-hitter). With Ottawa, he still batted .310/.363/.533 in his 60 games for the Lynx. Despite his limited action, he led Ottawa with 14 homers. He clearly no longer figured in the Expos' plans.
A first try in Japan
The big Panamanian signed with the Orix BlueWave in 2002 and became the first gaijin to homer from both sides of the plate in back-to-back games on May 6 and May 7. He also became the first player in Nippon Pro Baseball history to have three games with home runs from each side of the plate. He only hit .204/.316/.479, though, and lost time at first to Scott Sheldon as manager Hiromichi Ishige was no fan of his high strikeout rate (104 in 280 AB) and poor average. His 23 homers at year's end were still second on Orix behind Sheldon as the last-place club had little offense.
The top slugger in minor league baseball
In 2003, Fernando returned to the USA, signing with the New York Yankees. He was 1 for 7 in a limited appearance in New York and was 5 for 13 with the Tampa Yankees, presumably in a rehabilitation stint. He spent most of the year belting the ball at AAA, producing at a .341/.401/.624 clip with 28 homers in 402 AB for the Columbus Clippers. He led the International League in homers and batting average and led all of full-season minor league baseball in slugging percentage. He was named the DH on the IL All-Star team and won the league MVP award. He fell 6 RBI shy of the Triple Crown as Andy Abad drove in 93 to Fernando's 87. It would have been the first Triple Crown in the IL since Jim Rice's 29 years earlier.
Overall, his MLB line was .249/.303/.451 for a 88 OPS+ without having had an extended run of regular playing time in the big leagues.
Back to Japan
Signing with Nippon Ham, the 29-year-old Seguignol continued to improve and even looked like a Triple Crown threat early in the year before falling. He still hit .305/.413/.567 and tying Nobuhiko Matsunaka for the Pacific League lead with 44 homers. He was second to Matsunaka in slugging and RBI (108) and third in the PL with 14 times hit by pitch. He made the Best Nine at DH. In 2005, he put up a .288/.358/.519 line with 31 circuit clouts. He was fifth in the PL in homers, 8th in OPS and 10th in slugging while leading with 141 strikeouts.
In 2006, Fernando hit .295/.356/.532 for Nippon Ham with 37 doubles, 26 homers and 77 RBI, hitting behind star Michihiro Ogasawara and in front of Atsunori Inaba to form a fine 3-4-5 punch. The Fighters won their first pennant in 25 years. Fernando finished fourth in the league in slugging and total bases (258) and tied Inaba for fifth in homers. He led the loop in Ks (119) and doubles (3 more than runner-up Kazuhiro Wada) and was one extra-base hit behind Ogasawara for the league lead. He then hit .295/.400/.647 with two homers and 6 RBI in the 2006 Japan Series to help Nippon Ham win its first Japan Series ever, beating the Chunichi Dragons.
Seguignol re-signed with Nippon Ham for 268 million yen and one year, a key move as Ogasawara had departed as a free agent. His producting fell significantly, toa .249/.350/.428 batting line, but he still led the club with 21 homers. He led the PL with 11 intentional walks, was 8th in home runs, 4th in walks (65) and 4th in strikeouts (130). In the 2007 Japan Series, he was 4 for 12 with two doubles, two homers, 3 walks, 4 runs and 4 RBI but was a one-man show as all his teammates combined for only 3 runs and 3 RBI. He was thus involved in 6 of Nippon Ham's 7 runs in their futile show against the Dragons staff.