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After a poor start to the 2013 Cubs season, the focus shifted to who the Cubs might trade at the deadline. Thanks to solid first half performances, Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus built enough value to be desired by other clubs. So with two of the opening day outfield positions vacated, the opportunity was there for someone to make their mark. Junior Lake did his best to make an impression.
Primarily an infielder for his time in the minors, Lake was moved to the outfield for a short stint, six games, before being called up to the Cubs and thrust into action. The scouting report on Lake has always been the tools were there, but consistent struggles, be it plate discipline or poor defense left some to wonder if he could be an everyday player in the majors.
In 64 games, Lake put up a slash line of.284/.332/.428. He showed good power, while also having the ability to lay down a bunt and beat it out for a hit. But his patience at the plate was anything but..well, patient. While his contact was very often solid, I watched many games where Lake went after first pitch. As teams started to make adjustments, i.e. no first ball fastball, Lake’s average took a drop. Lake was able to make his own adjustments and finish with overall promising numbers, all while learning how to play the outfield in the show.
Lake will have to learn to have a better plan at the plate in 2014, and cut in to the 5.23 K/BB ratio. But with his speed, and hopefully added strength and durability from this off-season Lake should be penciled somewhere in the Cubs outfield on Opening day. With Lake, Nate Schierholtz, and Justin Ruggiano as your possible starters, there is some promise in the Cubs outfield. Schierholtz played very well in his first near full season as an everyday player, Lake showed promise as previously mentioned, and Ruggiano has a chance to be a gem the Cubs acquired quietly from the Marlins.
Nothing is promised, and Junior Lake will have to continue to earn it. And the 162 game grind on a player is always a legitimate concern. But I believe he did well enough last year to get his foot in the door and have the opportunity. Keep following @CubbiesCrib and @blaze9497 for more Cubs news, and have a wonderful holiday season!