Lemon succeeding in leadoff role

After a slow start to his first full professional season, Clinton shortstop Marcus Lemon is currently hitting .341 in the month of June after moving up to the leadoff spot. Lone Star Dugout has an interview with the 19-year-old native of Florida.

Clinton shortstop Marcus Lemon struggled during the season's first two months, as he put up a .213 average while hitting near the bottom of the batting order. Then in late May, Lemon moved into the leadoff spot when centerfielder Craig Gentry went down with an injury. The 19-year-old shortstop has gone on to hit .341 in 22 June games.

Lemon believes moving into the leadoff spot has helped, but he says that isn't the only reason for his outstanding month.

"I think it is [moving to the leadoff spot] and just getting comfortable," said Lemon. "I've been hitting first or second pretty much my whole life, but I started getting settled in. I was getting comfortable, but moving up didn't hurt."

The shortstop also prefers to hit at the top of the lineup.

"When you're hitting first, you get your mindset that you are probably going to get at least four at bats per game," said Lemon. "When you're hitting at the back of the lineup, it takes awhile to get up to the plate."

With Gentry currently rehabbing in Arizona, Lemon isn't sure how the lineup will stack up when the centerfielder returns.

"I'm not sure what will happen," he said. "Right now I just want to keep helping my team out. If I keep leading off, I'll help them as much as possible by getting on base. If Craig comes back, whatever happens will happen."

Lemon, who originally signed with the University of Texas out of high school, was said to be tough to sign before the 2006 MLB Draft. The Rangers drafted the Florida native in the fourth round and eventually signed him to a $1 million bonus, the largest for that round since 2000.

"I couldn't complain with the offer," said Lemon on why he signed with the Rangers. "The Rangers came with a strong offer and I got what I wanted. Not only that, but I can always go to school and get my education. That was also included. I'm young and you only get one opportunity at this age to go out and go for your dream."

After hitting .310 in 24 games with the Rookie level Arizona Rangers in his professional debut last season, the Rangers elected to send the then 18-year-old to full-season ball in Clinton. Lemon says he was surprised to begin the season there, but he was glad to see his hard work pay off.

"I was surprised," he said about starting at Clinton. "But as hard as my dad and I worked in the offseason, I was glad to see that my hard work paid off. I'm glad to be here and I hope that hard work continues to move me forward in the future."

Part of the offseason work included making adjustments, which is something that Lemon expects to do quite a bit throughout his baseball career.

"There are always adjustments you make," explained Lemon. "The whole game is about making adjustments. I've made quite a few. It's a lot of little things like my batting stance and defensively. In order to get better you have to be able to make adjustments."

The son of former Major Leaguer Chet Lemon also believes his defense at shortstop is progressing smoothly.

"I think I've learned a lot," said the shortstop. "They've worked with me quite a bit and I think I'm getting better."

After walking 16 times in 24 games last year, Lemon is receiving many free passes again this year. He has 30 walks on the season with the LumberKings, including eight over his last 10 games. The left-handed hitter went on to discuss his plate discipline.

"It's really important to my game," said Lemon. "Hopefully in the future I can stay first or second in the lineup. It is important because in order to get on base for your teammates, you need to have a good eye at the plate. It's very important and it has always been a big part of my game."

As far as goals for the rest of the season, Lemon just wants to keep his current streak going.

"I just want to help my team win, get on base, and keep grinding it out."


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