The Chicago Cubs had several holes in their lineup last season, and after the All-Star Break they decided to call up rookie Junior Lake, an athletic-gifted player who was still a bit raw, to take care of the outfield. Lake responded admirably on offense and even when he had some problems defensively, he was far better than expected considering he never had much experience at that position at the minors.
This year the Cubs’ outfield is in need of some serious help. They need a serious upgrade as Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic are the only two pieces that have their presence all but assured for the next year.
Does Junior Lake deserve a spot on next year’s starting outfield as well?
Based on offense alone, Lake’s bat should find a place in the lineup. Despite the fact that he doesn’t have much power (6 HR in 236 PA) or plate discipline (13 BB), he was still serviceable and he was able to hit consistently. He cooled off down the stretch but ended the season with a slash line of .284/332/428.
Defensively is a whole different story. Luckily for Lake, the Cubs had one of the best outfield coaches in Dave McKay, who helped Lake since day one just like he did with Alfonso Soriano back in the day. Despite that, Lake’s routes were sometimes atrocious and he often committed mistakes that shouldn’t have happened so there are still lots of things to improve.
Junior Lake brings a lot to the table for the team at this stage. He could definitely be a stopgap until the prospects like Jorge Soler and Albert Almora start arriving to the majors, and he might be suited for a super-sub role once the Cubs are able to contend.
But due to the stage of the rebuilding the Cubs are currently in, Junior Lake might have to be the team’s left fielder through next season.