The Spring Training games have taught several things to the Chicago Cubs fans. Some prospects have outperformed the expectations, others – like highly-touted infielder Javier Baez – are pushing their way to make the team as soon as possible, and some of the invitees have looked even better than expected.
However, not everything has gone right for the Cubbies, and there’s one rookie who struggled to find his form, and his job could be in jeopardy. I’m talking about OF Junior Lake who, after a putrid showdown so far in Spring Training, could very well be on his way back to AAA Iowa once Opening Day arrives.
The former infielder took the MLB by storm last season after being called up after the All-Star Break, but his performance declined towards the end of the campaign. According to reports, he was spectacular during Winter Ball, and his outfield defense was supposed to be much improved, but the truth is that none of that has been shown in ST so far. Lake has been erratic in his throws, hasn’t been able to take routes like expected, and he’s not doing himself any favors at the plate with a poor approach and issues making consistent contact.
With several spots locked down – Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney will make the team no matter what – and surprising performances in ST – like Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald – Lake needs to be send back to AAA Iowa in order to get things together sooner than later. He needs consistent at-bats and reps in the outfield in order to continue improving, and he simply hasn’t shown enough to guarantee a starting spot with the Cubs this year.
There’s little doubt that Lake has all the tools to be an impact player at The Show. However, he needs to refine some things before returning to Wrigley Field, and Iowa seems to be the perfect place to do it.