Cubs Prospect Interview: D.J. LeMahieu

D.J. LeMahieu is learning the pro game and making adjustments on the fly in his first full season at Class High-A Daytona. The Cubs' third-round pick in the 2009 draft batted .277 with 15 extra-base hits and 38 RBI through his first 67 games of 2010. He spoke to us about some of the adjustments he has made, some recent reps at third base, and why the team is playing better in recent weeks.

You've had some good streaks and some not-so-good streaks. Overall, are you happy with the year you've had to this point being it is your first full year of pro ball?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I struggled out of the gate and I think it's kind of an adjustment period for me. Obviously we're playing at a high level now and the pitching is a lot better. I'm still getting used to the wooden bat, so I struggled at first but I've been working really hard and making some adjustments. I think they're starting to pay off. I've been hitting really well lately and hopefully I keep hitting.

What are some examples of the adjustments you've made?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I (could) get away with a lot with aluminum bats, just settling for hits when I was in hitters' counts. Now, I'm starting to look to drive the ball more in hitters' counts. Mechanically, I don't think there's too much; just more of an approach thing. I work with Richie Zisk, our hitting coach, on just having a better approach, really.

You've really hit left-handed pitching well this year (.365). Is there some reason for that you can point to?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I have a natural inside-out swing, and so the angle of the ball just kind of feeds right into my swing well. With righties, often times they like to pound me in on the inside corner and I think earlier in the season I was really struggling with that. Now I'm starting to hit right-handers more regularly. Again, I think it's just an approach thing. I've always hit lefties really well and hopefully that never stops.

Defensively, everyone knew coming out of the draft that you'd played second and short. Now you're starting to get some reps at third base. Can you talk about how the work around the infield has gone?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I really never played third base until this year. I like playing all three positions -- second, short, and third. I just think if I can play all three really well, that can only help me in the long run.

Was third base something the Cubs talked to you about in spring training or did (manager) Buddy Bailey approach you once the season started?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I haven't talked to them a whole lot about it, but I've always taken reps at third in spring training and last year, so I knew that they were probably trying to work me in at all three spots. I think I've adapted pretty well at third. I think playing all three is only going to help me and really it doesn't matter to me too much.

Do you have a favorite between short and second?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I don't think it really matters too much. The game is a little different and obviously the ball comes off the bat differently, but it doesn't matter too much.

Aside from your approach, is there anything in particular that you're working on at the plate?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: (T)rying to drive the ball more in hitters' counts. I think I've done pretty well on the strikeouts, but probably I would like to see some more pitches. I haven't walked a whole lot this year, so probably seeing some more pitches maybe and working the count a little more. I've always been a free swinger and I've always made a lot of contact, so I haven't really worried about striking out, but it would be nice to work on seeing some more pitches and working the count a little better probably.

Did you envision beginning your first full pro season at High-A?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I wasn't sure at all, really. Wherever they put me, I'd be happy with and I think I've adjusted pretty well so far here at High-A and hopefully I'll continue to get better.

Can it be a good thing as a young player that you've had some games where you're in a funk so that maybe on down the road, you'll be better prepared?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: Absolutely. I really never struggled as much as I had earlier this year, and I knew that if I could just get through it, it was going to make me a better hitter and it has. I've learned a lot. I thought I knew my swing in college and then I get to pro ball and think I know my swing and I struggled a little bit earlier this year. You just keep learning more about your swing. I think by struggling, you learn more about your swing and more about yourself. I know I'm going to have my slumps, but I think I've learned a lot and made a big jump.

At one point, the team was 10 games below .500 and now you're almost at .500 with the second half starting up. What do you make of the way the team is playing right now versus earlier in the season?

D.J. LEMAHIEU: I was struggling and the whole team was struggling. Our pitchers weren't throwing well and our hitters weren't hitting like we could have. I think we just all came together and pretty much our whole team is new to the Florida State League. And it's a tough league. We're all just adjusting and we've all settled in a little bit and are swinging the bat well. Our pitchers are doing a great job and we're just kind of coming together a little bit.

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