By Rubin E. Grant
Caden Lemons is living the dream a year after starting his dream job.
The 19-year-old from Vestavia Hills High School is playing professional baseball for the Arizona Brewers, the rookie level minor league team of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s awesome, honestly,” Lemons said during a phone conversation from Phoenix. “It’s hands down the best job in the world. It’s tough to beat six or seven hours a day at the ball park.
“I have met a lot of guys from different places – Australia, Venezuela, China and Cuba – and me and some of the other high school guys have formed a friendship. It’s fun, more fun than a regular job.”
A lanky, 6-foot-6, 175-pound right-handed pitcher, Lemons was the Brewers’ second-round pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, the 46th player taken overall. He turned down a baseball scholarship to Ole Miss to sign with the Brewers, receiving a $1.45 million signing bonus.
“The Brewers just gave me a good enough position to where I couldn’t pass on the opportunity,” Lemons said.
Lemons pitched in three games for the Arizona Brewers during the 2017 season and then returned home to Vestavia Hills for the offseason. He spent a lot of time working out, training at Godspeed Elite Sports Academy in Hoover and at Life Time Fitness in Vestavia Hills.
He also traveled frequently to Oxford, Mississippi, to watch Ole Miss play football and see his girlfriend, Hannah Claire Hamric, a member of the Rebelettes, Ole Miss’ dance team.
Perhaps one day Lemons will enroll in college himself, because MLB has fully paid for him to attend, but he said, “Not at the moment.” He’s too busy trying to improve at his craft in hopes of reaching the major leagues in the not too distant future.
The Brewers are not rushing Lemons through their minor league system, although he’s ranked as their 16th-best prospect. He was in extended spring training until July before being assigned to the rookie club in Arizona. He has made two starts for the Arizona Brewers, pitching five innings while allowing only two hits and one run with two walks and four strikeouts. He’s still looking for his first win.
“I threw real well,” Lemons said. “I’m feeling good about where I am.”
Lemons consistently throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has a slider. He’s developing a curveball and changeup. He hopes that if he continues to progress, he can move up to the Brewers’ lower-level Class A team, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, later this summer.
“I’m trying to be the best I can be for when the time comes (to move up),” he said. “When the time comes, it’ll come. I can only control what I can control. I just try to be in the moment. You can get so worried about so many things that it becomes stressful. I want to be in the moment and not worried about all that other stuff. It’s all a matter of playing ball and having fun and trying to stay true to the moment.”