Outfielder Junior Lake, who was a shortstop until last year, was called-up to the majors after the All-Star Break and surprised in a brief stint, hitting .284/.332/.428 with six HRs and 16 RBIs. He cooled towards the end of the year, but he provided a steady presence on offense and raw tools that could translate to a solid career if he keeps progressing.
He will have more chances to do it as he seems poised to be a starter on Opening Day this season. The Cubs have Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney as the only two outfielders that have secured a place for this upcoming season, and all signs are pointing to Lake for that third spot.
Justin Ruggiano seems destined to be a platoon player and with no other viable option, Lake could secure that place with a strong showing in Spring Training. It remains to be seen where he will play, but he could make a case to be the starting CF in 2014.
Despite the fact that Lake played LF last year, the winter ball reports have been quite encouraging in the sense that his insane athleticism is allowing him to be an effective center fielder. He still has a lot of work left to do, particularly when taking routes, but he appears to be a good product going forward.
He is not going to be a star by any means, but it appears that Lake can be a very productive player in 2014. The Cubs need a few of those players, so giving Lake some time to produce can prove to be a very good move looking towards the future.