Since being called up to the big leagues two weeks ago, 23-year-old outfielder Junior Lake has been a nice surprise for the Chicago Cubs. After his two home run game on Thursday, Lake is hitting .323/.344/.565 with four home runs.
Lake is a very interesting player. He is extremely athletic, has good power and is a very strong arm. The biggest problem with Lake is his history of extreme inconsistency. One day he looks like a future MVP candidate, the next day he looks like he just started playing baseball last week.
Offensively, Lake has been great so far, as his numbers indicate. I would like to see more patience out of him at the plate, but I am not overly concerned about that right now. His outfield play is a little shaky, but his athletic ability allows him to make plays that many players cannot make. Also, Lake has an absolute cannon for an arm.
With this great start to his big league career, many people are wondering if Lake is now considered to be a core player for the Cubs in this rebuild. The Cubs are building this team around guys like Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija. I am not willing to put Lake into that category just yet, but if he continues to hit major league pitching, I think he could be an important player for the Cubs when they are ready to compete.
Lake has been playing outfield in the big leagues but he came up as a shortstop and has played a lot of third base in the minors as well. I think with his versatility and solid bat, Lake is at worst a nice utility player off of the bench. Lake crushed left-handed pitching in the minors, so he would make some sense as a multi-position platoon player.
Do not get me wrong, Lake certainly has the upside to be an everyday player, but his hot start does not make me absolutely certain that he will become one. With the Cubs out of contention, the rest of this season is a bit of a showcase for Lake. He will continue to get plenty of starts as the Cubs try to figure out what they have in their young player. One thing is for sure, he is very exciting to watch.
I am extremely interested to watch Lake’s career unfold. With his raw talent, the sky is the limit for Junior Lake.