For years now, Junior Lake has been one of the most exciting and enigmatic prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system. Bless with obvious physical talent, Lake is, at times, a scout’s dream. Frequently in recent years, the numbers have matched that dream.
But he’s also been inconsistent in his approach at the plate, and has yet to settle on a defensive position where a consensus of folks believe he can stick long-term. He’s not old at 23, but because he was put on the 40-man roster before the 2012 season, the clock is ticking just a bit for the Cubs to figure out whether he can be a future contributor on the big team. To that end, the 2013 season was going to be a big one for Lake, who was expected to start the season at AAA Iowa, his first stint there.
And then he broke a rib in Spring Training (up by his shoulder), which must have proved to be a serious injury – or at least one with setbacks or something – because he’s been out for quite some time, healing and rehabbing.
Today, Tommy Birch reports that Iowa Cubs manger Marty Pevey says Lake will be joining Iowa on Thursday. Whew. Finally.
I can’t wait to see where Lake sees the majority of action (he’s been playing third base and center field in Extended Spring Training, and most folks believe his days at shortstop are behind him), and whether it tips off how the Cubs view his future. He may have to move around a fair bit just to get at bats, but maybe that will be the best thing for his future value to the Cubs anyway, as a super utility type.
I also can’t wait to see if Lake has improved at the plate any, and can consistently show the kind of approach that impresses everyone for multi-week stretches at a time.