Cubs Roster Profiles: Junior Lake
As the 2012 season approaches, Cubbies Crib is profiling each and every member of the Cubs forty man roster. Today, we are talking about Junior Lake.
Junior Lake is one of the most enigmatic and frustrating players in the Cubs farm system. He is a legitimate five tool talent who could play effectively at short, second base, third base, or in the outfield. His arm is so strong, he could even move to the mound. He has enough power to play on the corners, enough speed to swipe 40 bases, and he strikes out 25% of the time. That is not good. If he can ever smooth out his swing and refine his approach at the plate, Lake will be one of the most exciting prospects in baseball.
In his fifth season as a professional, Lake finally had a breakout performance in Daytona. The Cubs promptly promoted him to Double A, and he again struggled. Those who watched him play in the Arizona Fall League came away impressed, however, and expectations are high heading into 2012. Between his two regular season stops, he enticed scouts by hitting 12 home runs and stealing 38 bases. If he can just become a more consistent hitter, he will have a very bright future.
Lake should return to Tennessee next season and will likely spend at least half a season there. If he can cut his strike out rate down and hold an OPS north of .750, he might earn a promotion to Iowa. He is still young, even for Double A, and the Cubs have absolutely no reason to rush him. If the front office views Lake as a long term piece of the Cubs’ future, I think we can expect to see him switch to third base or right field before the end of the season. If they leave him at short full time, it will likely be to maximize his trade value. Either way, Lake is a very valuable guy to have in the farm system. He will be one of the prospects we watch the most closely in 2012.