I was always more of a rock & roll/punk fan growing up, but the area where I grew up was big into house music when I was a teen. So whenever I see the letters DJ, it conjures up a certain image for me. Naturally then, even though his surname seems better suited for Zydeco than house music, I can't help but have this silly picture in my head whenever I hear anything about former LSU star and current Cub prospect DJ LeMahieu ...
Now that I've gotten that out of my system, we can talk about D.J. LeMahieu's real talent: hitting a baseball.
Baseball America named LeMahieu (the D.J. stands for David John) the
best hitting prospect in the entire Cubs organization. This is high
praise considering that top prospect Brett Jackson and minor league
player of the year Brandon Guyer, who has since been traded to Tampa,
were also under consideration for that recognition. LeMahieu put that
hitting talent on display Sunday by hitting a 2 run homer to win the game in
the bottom of the 10th.
Ironically, power is the one tool that he
has not showcased in his professional career, hitting just 2 home runs
last year -- the first 2 of his career. The Cubs, however, feel he will be able to eventually hit 15 home runs per season if he adds some bulk. He'll also need to make adjustments at the plate to get more elevation on the ball. However, his ability to square up and make solid contact is unquestioned. The Cubs are very good at scouting hitters who can do this, consistently preferring raw hitting ability and an aggressive approach over a more patient, disciplined approach. As with some of the other Cubs young hitters such as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters, LeMahieu makes contact so easily that he does not always wait for that one pitch he can drive. Development in this area, as much as added strength, will determine his ability to hit for power in the big leagues. Both Colvin and Castro have shown progress with their approach, and the Cubs are hoping that LeMahieu will follow suit.
The reason this is important is that while the pure ability to hit a baseball will be LeMahieu's ticket to the big leagues, hitting for power is what will eventually make him a starter. His speed and quickness are barely average, and while he has soft hands in the field, that will limit where he'll be able to play defensively. Scouts believe he is best suited for 3b, but major league 3rd baseman are expected to hit more than 2 home runs per year. If LeMahieu doesn't develop power, his defensive limitations at 2b and SS, may lead him to a career as a utility infielder.
Luckily, LeMahieu does have time on his side. He's still only 22 years and he should begin this season at AA Tennessee. The Cubs are optimistic that LeMahieu can be a full-time starter in the big leagues but they know he was work to do before he gets there. Still, watching him hit that home run Sunday had to bring some smiles to the Cubs brass. If that was a glimpse of things to come, then we could be seeing David John LeMahieu bringing his hitting talents to Chicago before long.