Lien Already Seeing A Difference

Outfielder Connor Lien did not have a great statistical year in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Braves last year, but he says behind the numbers there was some real progress made and he would not have changed a thing.

He hit just .228 with no home runs and 49 strikeouts in 48 games for the GCL Braves, but as is often the case with most young players drafted right out of high school like he was last year, he took the entire season and chalked it up to a valuable learning experience.

"It was a great season, a good learning experience, and I'm just ready for camp this year," he said. "I learned mostly on how to be a professional ball player and go about your business everyday."

Standing 6-foot-3 with real long-term power potential and good speed already, Lien says it was more on the mental side of things where the biggest adjustments needed to be made.

"It wasn't so much the game on the field -- the game is pretty much always going to be the same -- the speed of the game is a little bit quicker and it's a grind everyday, you have to get up and do your stuff everyday," he said.

"I don't really know how to define it but the mental side of it is just what people underestimate. I think it's more a mental grind than anything and it's something you have to take into account."

Another aspect for first-year pros that has to be experienced is facing the quality of pitchers they see day in and day out. Unlike the amateur ranks where hitters see a top pitcher once or twice a week, now they're seeing them on a daily basis.

"I've never had too much trouble adjusting to good velocity, but when I say adjusting to the speed of the game it's about adjusting to the offspeed [pitches] and the quality of the defense was better," he admitted. "The hits that usually would be hits [in high school] were being tracked down in the outfield."

Still just 18 years old, Lien is in the infancy stage of his professional career and as a result he still has many areas of his game to further develop.

"You have to work on every part of your game. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses but you have to focus on them equally," he said. "I plan on getting into the cages, taking a lot of swings off of a tee, and getting more reps this year so hopefully that will show next season."

Using the opposite field more when he hits, getting stronger, and even working on his defensive game are all areas of focus for him, but he does admit he has one particular he would like to hone in on now.

"I'd probably say work on [hitting] offspeed [pitches better], stay on the ball a little bit longer and focus on going up the middle of the field."

A high-energy player, one who brings a lot of tools to the game and one who had a lot of success while playing his amateur days in Florida, Lien realizes that adapting to the professional game is a process and he is excited about it.

"I don't think I would have changed anything. I worked hard and I had a lot of fun, and I'm just ready for this next year.

"I've seen a world of difference in my game since I've come out [of high school] and when I got signed until now. I'm just excited to see how much more my game could progress going to [Spring Training] camp and then into the full season," he concluded.

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