Cubs Prospect Interview: D.J. Lewis

Outfielder D.J. Lewis was a 25th-round Cubs selection in the 2005 draft from Los Angeles Valley College. The 21-year-old has spent his entire pro career in the outfield, but is a former catcher from his days as an amateur and still possesses a strong arm from his post in the corner outfield spots.

Lewis debuted in the Arizona Rookie League the year he was drafted, batting .322 in 45 games. He finished in the league's top 10 in batting average (sixth), doubles (3rd-14) and extra-base hits (4th-19).

The Los Angeles native would appear in 52 games a season ago for Class Low-A Boise of the short-season Northwest League and batted .257 with five home runs, 17 doubles and 34 RBIs.

Last year was your first stint above the Rookie League in Arizona. What did you make of Boise?

Boise was the perfect first step for me as far as getting above rookie ball. The biggest fear I had was not fitting in and going up to a new place – the Potato State. But the fans were supportive and I thought I did pretty well and handled myself well.

Based on the season you had, what goals do you now have in 2007?

My goal has always been to be the best player I can be. If that's a .270 hitter with 15 home runs a year, I'm happy with that. I hit well my first year in Arizona and last year, my average was down but my power numbers were up. Now, I want to find a happy medium. I know it's hard to hit .320 every year, but I'd like to hit in the upper .290s or low .300s with the same power I had in Boise last year.

Do you notice yourself becoming more of a traditional power hitter?

I've always been a power hitter since I was young. In rookie ball, I didn't hit any home runs because I guess I was just getting used to hitting with a wooden bat. My first year, I had 13 or 14 doubles and out of those, I think six of them could have been home runs with the metal bats.

Walk us through your approach at the plate.

Everyone is superstitious and has routines that they follow, but I don't have any out of the ordinary. I just try to relax at the plate. I use my back elbow a lot. I try to get the rhythm and the timing of the pitches down. If I do, it makes the ball seem like a beach ball instead of a golf ball.

How would you describe the defensive aspect of your game?

I have a good arm, but I'm not used to being an outfielder. I had been catching my whole life and only recently have I made the transition to the outfield -- ever since I've been playing pro ball. It takes awhile to develop the difference in arm angles. With the outfield, you have a little more time to gather yourself. Sometimes I want to go back and throw like a catcher and release the ball really quick, but I won't have as much on it. Then sometimes I'll get really into it and have a perfect throw, but it will arrive a split second later.

Take us back to your days behind the plate.

I'd been catching since I was 7 years old. I went to the University of Arizona and the only reason I didn't catch there was because Nick Hundley was on my team and he was a third-round guy taken by the Padres. Nick was an animal behind the plate. They wanted to keep my bat in the lineup, so they developed me as an outfielder.

Did the Cubs ever talk to you about going back behind the plate after they drafted you?

I don't know if they knew about my catching background when they drafted me. I went to Arizona for only one year and then went to a junior college. I was playing the outfield and we had a really strong catching unit there. The catching wasn't the strongest point, but overall it was a nice group of guys and the way everything was set up, it was our best chance to win.

Could you see yourself going back to catching one day?

I'd love to catch again. It's my dream so I could definitely, definitely, definitely see it. I have caught bullpen's with the Cubs, but I wouldn't jump back into it right away as I might have when I was younger.

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