BLUF: Crazy tools but lacks the polish to translate them on the field and may never realize potential.
The Player: Junior Lake (SS, Chicago Cubs) – Debuting in the Dominican Summer League in 2007, the then 17-year old Lake hit .274/.341/.404 with 21 extra-base hits. The Cubs brought him Stateside in 2008 and he turned in a .286/.335/.417 line in 47 games in the Arizona Rookie League. Lake continued to progress a level at a time with a promotion to Low-A in 2009, where he hit just .248 with 33 extra-base hits. Despite that poor performance, Lake moved on to the High-A Florida State League in 2010 and hit .264 in the process. The Cubs returned him to the FSL in 2011 and he hit .315/.336/.498 in 49 games before a promotion to Double-A. Over the last year and a half at Double-A, Lake has posted a combined .267/.326/.413 line that includes significant improvements over his brief 2011 trial.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2009, Southern League 2011) Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 215): Live, projectable body. Extremely athletic and explosive. Lean frame with room to grow without hindering athleticism or quickness. Fast twitch. Plus-plus body.
Hit: Plus bat speed with excellent strength in his wrists and forearms. Has some barrel control but doesn’t maintain it consistently. Pitch recognition is poor and will regularly chase outside the strike zone. Poor overall approach. When he makes contact he uses the whole field well and can drive the ball with authority. Fringe-average hitter if it all comes together; likely below-average at MLB level. Grade – 30/40
Power: Bat speed and explosive strength give him at least average raw power. Drives the ball to the gaps with more power to the pull side. Could hit 12-16 home runs annually and add a number of doubles as well. Raw doesn’t always play because of poor approach. May be limited to fringe-average game power. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Crazy elite. One of the best – if not the best – infield arms in the minor leagues. Absolute cannon. Quick release with tons of raw strength and incredible velo across the diamond. Top of the scale. Grade – 80/80
Fielding: Despite ample playing time, still very raw as a defender. Instincts are slow and his first step is often late. Shows good range once underway. Actions don’t look natural. Hands are okay but not great. Better fit in right field long term. Not a natural defender. Grade – 30/30
Speed: Slightly above-average times from home to first. Runs better once underway but doesn’t get up to speed quickly. Fast-twitch athleticism doesn’t translate to running ability. Running ability should be maintained. Grade – 50/50
Summation: Explosive athlete that intrigues even the most cautious observer. Incredible raw tools but little game translation. Really, really raw. Needs considerable refinement despite six years of pro experience. Not a shortstop long term and would be well-served to switch positions soon to allow for adjustment period. Has athleticism to handle right field with ease. Speed will play better in the outfield than at shortstop. Arm is ridiculous and will play anywhere, including on the mound. Very raw hitter that would be lucky to hit .260 in the big leagues at his peak. Potential OBP sink because of poor approach and hacker mentality. Has pop when he makes contact but power is mitigated by swing and miss issues and approach. Difficult to see full-time profile with offensive issues. Needs significant development in approach and quality contact. Move to outfield will require more offensive production
Relative Risk: High. Despite solid Double-A performance, risk level is very high because of raw offense and defense.
Future: Should be ready for Triple-A in 2013 and could make his Major League debut if the need arises. Unlikely to be a significant contributor until 2014 and that requires developmental steps to be made.