Friday, July 19, 2013
Lake an intriguing, versatile option for Cubs
By Jesse Rogers
The addition of Chicago Cubs prospect Junior Lake to the roster for the start of the second half doesn't exactly signal the future is now for the organization. But at least Cubs fans finally can get a glimpse of a player who might be ready to join the core in some capacity.
Junior Lake played mostly third base at Iowa but should see time in the outfield with the Cubs.
Let's make no mistake about the 23-year-old infielder/outfielder, he's not as highly touted as some of the other names you've heard. In fact, he doesn't make the Cubs' top 10 prospect list by ESPN Insider's Keith Law or Baseball America.
Lake was an undrafted free agent signed in 2007, and he has worked his way up the minor league ladder and now will get his chance -- at least on a limited basis -- while the Cubs deal with some injuries in the outfield.
He was slowed in spring training by what manager Dale Sveum famously called a "trapezoid" injury as he had a problem in the back of his shoulder. But his batting average (.295) and on-base percentage (.341) at Triple-A Iowa in 40 games is probably what forced his promotion. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Lake is big and athletic, not unlike Cuban prospect Jorge Soler. In fact they were easy to confuse in spring training.
Although he played in 36 games at third base in Iowa, expect Lake to play as much in the outfield as the infield. He will play center field and bat sixth in his major league debut on Friday.
Sveum likes his current third baseman in Luis Valbuena and the Cubs are more likely to have openings in the outfield in the near future.
The drafting of third baseman Kris Bryant No. 2 overall in the June draft might have an effect on where Lake plays as well. For his time in the majors this season Lake will get the majority of time in the outfield but could still see days at third base when a left-hander is starting for the opposition.
Lake is the appetizer when it comes to Cubs prospects. The main courses are still far from making the majors but at least his promotion gives Cubs fans a taste of the future.