By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
July 22, 2009
Drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the club’s No. 1 pick (29th overall) in the 2008 draft, Lonnie Chisenhall is following up his solid pro debut in the short-A New York Penn League with another solid season at high-A Kinston.
The jump from short-A to high-A sometimes kills young players, but Chisenhall has showed that he’s on track to hit double-A in 2010, a pretty nice pace for a former junior college player. He entered July 2009 hitting .283 with 13 home runs and 19 doubles in 71 games, with an .864 OPS in a pitcher’s league.
The left-handed hitting Chisenhall moved over from shortstop to third base and put the onus on himself to hit for power. He’s done that through three months in 2009 and earned a trip to the California-Carolina League All-Star game, though he was somewhat alarmed at the rise in strikeouts.
Born and raised in baseball rich North Carolina, Chisenhall has a loose and whippy body that should allow for more power as he progresses. Baseball Beginnings caught up with him in Lake Elsinore.
Baseball Beginnings: It’s been a pretty good career for you thus far. Why do you think you’ve had immediate success out of the gate?
Chisenhall: Since I’ve signed, I’ve done a few things to improve. My power has been most surprising for me this year. I lifted hard this off-season and I did a lot of conditioning. The strikeout numbers are up and I need to improve with that. And just learning to play every day and cope with the game has been a big improvement and learning process. It’s a lot different from college where you go out and play one weekend, play hard, and then rest for the next five days. You have to control your actions out here. You have to do only what is necessary. You can’t just come out here and go all-out. You have to pace yourself while still playing hard. I love watching the College World Series, but it’s obviously a lot different than pro ball.
Baseball Beginnings: What has been the most difficult challenge?
Chisenhall: Playing every day. Just getting used to the grind and staying with yourself every day.
Baseball Beginnings: How’s the Carolina League been for you as a hitter?
Chisenhall: The pitching here is really good. I think I heard that the California League has a higher batting average.
Baseball Beginnings: That’s because Cal League parks are wind tunnels.
Chisenhall: Not our places. They’re more pitchers’ parks.
Baseball Beginnings: What do you think you need to prove to the Indians to progress?
Chisenhall: Consistency. I recently made the move over to third base from shortstop. You got different angles, different throws, pretty much different everything.
Baseball Beginnings: Had you always been a shortstop?
Chisenhall: My entire career. I still go out there during BP and take ground balls. I switched to a little bit bigger glove because the ball gets on you a lot faster. You don’t have quite the same transfer.
Baseball Beginnings: You mentioned power surprised you. Why?
Chisenhall: I don’t know where the power is coming from. I’ve never really been a strikeout guy, but the numbers are up and I guess that comes with the territory. Moving over to third base, I just think I need to square up more balls and show fewer doubles and more home runs.
Baseball Beginnings: Where are you from in North Carolina?
Chisenhall: (Born in Morehead City and resides in Newport) About an hour away from Kinston, so the family is there every night. It doesn’t help or hurt me, but it’s still fun. I had offers, to Tennessee and North Carolina State, but I never accepted any because I made it known I wanted to sign. I definitely wanted to sign. My main goal was to play professional ball. Getting picked in the first round, you’re obviously going to get your shot. You still have to work hard and everything, but it was still a privilege to be picked in the first round. I treated it like a privilege instead of a birthright or something. I’m happy with how it’s gone so far.