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LeMahieu quickly ascends Cubs' system

5/30/2011

The young talent in the Cubs’ farm system is finding its way to Clark and Addison much faster than the organization anticipated.

Infielder D.J. LeMahieu, who joined the team Monday, is the latest minor leaguer to get called up by the team.

The Cubs needed an infielder to replace Jeff Baker, who was put on the DL with a left groin strain. LeMahieu was told yesterday by Brian Harper, his manager at Double-A Tennessee, that he was going to Triple-A Iowa.

”Two hours later I got a phone call from [Cubs Oneri Fleita. He said ‘forget about Iowa,’ you’re on your way to the major leagues,” LeMahieu said.

LeMahieu was hitting .358 at Double-A Tennessee with 27 RBIs in 50 games with 20 doubles. It’s also noteworthy that he was batting .459 against lefties – that fact is key because he’s replacing Baker, who also had been dominant against left-handed pitching.

“This young man knows what his strengths are and knows what his weaknesses are,” Fleita said. “However, we believe he has enough to compete at this level.”

The Cubs selected LeMahieu out of LSU in the second round of the 2009 draft. He played for LSU in the College World Series as a freshman in 2006.

“When you’ve gone through a quality program like the one at LSU and you played in the College World Series, you’ve paid your dues,” Fleita said. “He’s well prepared and was way ahead of some other players that were drafted and developed in our minor leagues.”

LeMahieu was hoping that experience will help his transition to the big leagues.

“Playing in front of crowds and going to Omaha [in the 2006 College World Series] the adjustment to the minor leagues wasn’t as big and hopefully [playing in the majors] is somewhat similar,” he said.

Manager Mike Quade said he’s not sure if LeMahieu will get a start in the near future but he won’t hesitate to use him off the bench.