The Lone Star Dugout Prospect Hot List returns with another look around the Rangers organization.…
Lemon showing his power with Blaze
Last season, Marcus Lemon took on the challenge of playing in the pitching-heavy Midwest League despite being just 18-years-old and less than a year removed from high school. He showed steady progress with Clinton, batting .279 with a .784 OPS [on-base plus slugging percentage] in the second half of the season.
The progress was enough for the Rangers to promote Lemon to High-A Bakersfield out of spring training this year. The shortstop has justified the Rangers' confidence in him by hitting .303 with 24 doubles and seven home runs in 99 games this season.
Lemon, a left-handed hitter, has been particularly impressive against left-handed pitchers. He is batting .291 with 13 walks and 11 strikeouts in 86 at-bats against southpaws this year.
While the 20-year-old appears to have an excellent approach against lefties, he has also shown some power against right-handers. Lemon currently possesses an impressive .465 slugging percentage against right-handed hurlers.
Through the season's first three months, Lemon had worked 35 walks while striking out just 27 times. He batted .298 with 15 extra-base hits [205 at-bats] over that stretch. In June and August, he has struck out 33 times while working just eight free passes. However, the Florida native has hit .309 with 20 extra-base knocks in 165 at-bats.
Lone Star Dugout recently sat down with Lemon for a Q&A session.
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on your season with the Blaze?
Lemon: It was a rough start for me in particular because I missed the first 14 or so games because I had an injury. But being able to play every day now and being able to help my team and contribute to the games, it means a lot. It is a lot better now that I'm out there every day.
Cole: That was a hamstring issue that you had, right?
Lemon: Yes. I had a little bit of a hamstring problem. It wasn't quite a pull – it was like a little strain. We took measures where we didn't want to push it to where I came back and ended up hurting it worse. I took a little extra time to make sure I was ready.
Cole: Does it feel pretty good now?
Lemon: Oh, it feels great now. My body feels 100 percent and I'm ready to go.
Cole: Particularly over the last month, you have hit for quite a bit of power. You didn't hit for much power last year, but it seems like you are starting to develop it. Where is it coming from?
Lemon: I think I have always had a little bit of power. I'm a little guy, so just depending on situations, I'm a line drive or gap kind of guy. If I go straight to the ball and it happens to go out, I'm not going to be your big bomb guy. But going straight to the ball and hitting line drives, every once in awhile I'm going to get one that carries.
Cole: What is the main thing you've been working on at the plate here in the Cal League?
Lemon: I have just been focusing, playing hard. I'm staying on the ball – not getting out of who I am. Not allowing maybe a little bit of the power to get involved with my swing. I just want to go with line drives. I'm just playing.
Cole: You've had quite a bit of success against left-handed pitching this year, which is especially rare for young left-handed hitters like yourself. What do you think has allowed you to have that success?
Lemon: Growing up, especially with my dad being a big influence on me and teaching me pretty much everything I know, he just told me it doesn't matter what side a guy is throwing from. The ball has got to cross the plate, whether it's from the left or the right. He said to stay on it and don't worry about it.
Cole: You have walked quite a bit this year, but lately your batting average has gone up and you really haven't walked much at all. What has been the difference there?
Lemon: I don't know. It's a number of things. A lot of guys are around the plate more. When guys are attacking the plate, there is no sense in letting the guy get two strikes on you. My dad has always told me that you can't walk to the big leagues. If I get an opportunity where if a guy does walk me, it's going to happen. But I just think that, seeing the ball right now, and being on my game. I'm moving pitches earlier in the count, so I'm not getting a chance to where I would get more balls or I get more strikes. I think that may be one of the reasons.
Cole: Tell me about your progress defensively this season. What are the primary things you have focused on there?
Lemon: This year defensively, it has just been being aggressive and not getting too laid back. I don't want to be scared to make mistakes. If you make mistakes – it's going to happen. You can't get better if you are playing scared.
Cole: How do you feel you have played out there this year?
Lemon: Not bad. I think there is always room for improvement, especially as a young athlete. Moving up, especially in the minor leagues, I think there are always going to be things I need to work on just to improve so I can make it to the big leagues one day.
Cole: What are you looking for out of yourself from here through the end of the season?
Lemon: Right now, I just want to help my team make it to the playoffs. We didn't quite make it in the first half, so that's what we're playing on doing – try to make it to the playoffs in the second half here.
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