Cubs Minor League Daily: Why Lake?

junior lake cubsAs noted yesterday, Junior Lake has been called up to Chicago. This is an interesting move.

While the status of the 40 man roster and the fact that Lake is already on it no doubt played a role in this move, clearing a slot on the 40 man could be as easy as Hector Rondon finally coming down with his long-expected case of Rule-5-itis and being moved to the 60 man DL (assuming I’m counting correctly and he’d still get in enough service time should the Cubs make that move, that is). Had the Cubs wanted to move up someone else the roster would not necessarily have had to stand in the way.

That makes me think that they wanted Lake. Given that Lake is their best position prospect in Triple A right now that move makes a certain amount of sense. The problem is that Lake just started playing third base in a sustained way this season. There are some things a player can develop while sitting on the bench and watching in the majors, but the reactions and experience necessary to handle third base at a high level is not on that list. And given that Lake has only been playing in Iowa for a few weeks, he probably doesn’t need a breather on Chicago’s bench yet.

That suggests Lake is going to play fairly regularly. Where? Speculation has been outfield, but I suspect third base. And that implies a trade is very imminent.

If Darwin Barney is dealt, Luis Valbuena likely moves over to second base and Lake inherits third for (potentially) the rest of the season. Or if it is Valbuena in the deal, then Lake simply steps right in. And if both are dealt? Then we either see someone coming back in the deal to take over at second or Logan Watkins comes up to take over second base.

On the other hand, if no deal arrives then Lake has no obvious place to play every day. If the Cubs were looking for a pure bench guy, then I think Watkins made more sense. The only reason to call up Lake is to play him.

And so I am looking for a deal that includes either Valbuena or Barney in the very near future.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa rallied in the eighth to take the 6-3 win.
Tennessee - A five run eighth inning rally was not quite enough. The Smokies lost 7-6.
Daytona -  The rain didn’t go away, so the game did. This one was postponed.
Kane County -  And now the Cougars are 21 games under .500 on the season. They lost 3-2.
Boise - The Hawks used a seventh inning rally to take a 3-2 win.
Arizona - A run in the ninth carried the AZL Cubs to the 3-2 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Infielder Donnie Murphy homered (his 11th) and doubled to drive in 4 of the Cubs runs.
  • [Iowa] Eduardo Sanchez and Brian Schlitter were each impressive in relief. Both relievers struck out the side without giving up anything in one inning of work.
  • [Tennessee] All Star catcher Rafael Lopez hit his 6th home run and drew a walk to complete a 1 for 3 day.
  • [Tennessee] Rubi Silva added his 6th triple in this game. He is in the midst of a hot streak that has seen him post an OPS of .930 in his last ten games.
  • [Tennessee] Eric Jokisch gave up 3 runs on 3 walks and 5 hits while striking out 6 in his 5 inning start. Marcos Mateo tossed a scoreless inning in relief as he continues his rehab stint.
  • [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya smacked his 6th triple for the Cougars. His July OPS is up to 1.007.
  • [Kane County] Jose Rosario limited the hits to just 4 over 5 innings, but that was offset by allowing 4 walks against just 3 strikeouts.
  • [Boise] The only Hawk with a multi-hit day was Cael Brockmeyer who finished 2 for 3 with his second double.
  • [Boise] Rob Zastryzny was efficient in his 2 innings of work. He allowed just one hit, no walks, and recorded all his outs on contact.
  • [Boise] Sam Wilson was the next to the mound. He struck out 3 in 2 innings of work without giving up anything.
  • [Arizona] Jesse Hodges finished with 2 hits while playing third base. His was the only multi-hit day.
  • [Arizona] Tyler Ihrig struck out 4 and allowed 2 hits in his 2 innings of work. David Villegas picked up the save by striking out 2 in a perfect ninth.

Other News

  • Need a reason to smile? Take a listen to all 27 outs of the nine inning no-hitter tossed by Daytona Cub Matt Loosen twelve days ago.
  • I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – games in Arizona are absurdly hot. Despite an evening start time the game temperature in Surprise was 103 degrees. I can’t stand the 95 degrees that has been in Baltimore the past few days. Anyone who can play professional baseball in those conditions gets my respect.

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

57 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Why Lake?”

  1. cjdubbya

    Cubs have played 93 games (42-51), so Rondon’s hit the 90-day threshold.

  2. cjdubbya

    Also, Bogusevic’s headed to the DL, according to teh Twitterz, so that could be the impetus for the move?

  3. Kramden

    Fasten your seatbelts…. Today’s the day it all starts coming together and begins to make sense, Gents.

    Gonna be lots to talk about and analyze into the wee hours of the morning.

  4. Eric

    It’s no secret that I’ve been itching for Lake to come to Chicago for two years. I’m glad he’s finally getting his shot. I hope he sticks.

  5. 1908 Blues

    From Hoyer, via CSN Chicago, to Kaplan:

    “I think it will be a fairly short stay for Junior. He’ll probably go back when David [DeJesus] is healthy. He’s going to play against lefties for us. It should be a good time for him to get his feet wet. Dale is definitely going to play him against lefties. Like I said, he’s an exciting player, development is not done yet, but I think he can help us for this short stretch.”

    Seems Lake is going to have a cup of coffee, similar to Vitters and Jackson. Then back to minors to get injured and disappear, similar to Vitters and Jackson. JK, I actually hope that he shows he belongs and stays.

    1. Eric

      Boooooooo @ Hoyer

      1. Jp3

        Why boooo Hoyer? It’s going to be Sveum’s fault😝

        1. Eric

          I just don’t like short-sighting this kid before he even gets his first at-bat. I’ve watched him through the system and he has an exciting tool set.

          1. Timothy Scarbrough

            If he plays well enough to earn a starting spot, they won’t take it away.

  6. cubchymyst

    I’ll add who knows what the Garza deal will mean for the 40 man roster. They might need an extra if the Cubs get back an extra person to put on the 40 man then they trade. Plus there are currently 3 guys on the 15 day DL (5 more guys on 60 day) who will need to be added at some point when they return.

    1. Diesel

      Guys on the 15 day dl are still on the 40 man roster. However you are correct about the guys on the 60 day dl needing to be added.

  7. Carew

    It was mentioned in the comments yesterday (cant remember by who, sorry bout that) that McLeod said that Lake would come up when he could play everyday. I took it to mean somebody might be on their way out.

    But if Hoyer says cup of coffee, i guess cup of coffee

    1. Jp3

      I think it’s just Hoyer posturing, I don’t think because they needed someone to get 10 ABs a week they would pull Lake up.

      1. Pat

        Why is Lake above coming up to come off the bench for a week or so? His numbers are decent, but not of the “he comes up to start, or not at all” level.

        1. Mr. B. Patient

          It’s the old, ‘he needs at bats’ thing. They don’t want him sitting on a bench for long.

          I guess Lake could have a great few days, turn into a great few weeks, and make it tougher to send him down.

          Good Luck, Junior.

  8. Stinky Pete

    I sure hope we see Logan Wilkins soon.

    1. Brett

      Nice.

    2. Jp3

      Is he Rick Wilkins kid? Is he a catcher?

  9. Mvandy524

    Ill be happy with a Barney trade only if Watkins slides in and takes his spot and 2nd.

    1. Mvandy524

      I see Watkins as a Theriot type player. Solid defender and can swing the stick a little. i have never seen him play in person Anyone disagree with this statement?

      1. ssckelley

        I think Watkins has the potential to develop into a better hitter than Theriot. Keep in mind Theriot was much older when he came up to Chicago, he was drafted out of LSU while Watkins was drafted out of high school. Watkins is still only 23 and I think he has more developing power that Theriot never had.

        The fun part about all of this is Watkins is just the first wave of middle infielders coming up through the system.

        1. Jeff K

          Not sure about the power potential of Watkins, but I’d be happy if he could match Theriot’s career numbers of .281 BA and .341 OBP while providing some speed and good defense.

          1. ssckelley

            In 6 minor league seasons Watkins already has more home runs than Theriots entire professional career (23 vs 22). This is with Watkins not hitting 1 until his 3rd season. Watkins should hit over 10 this season, he hit 9 last year.

            Granted I doubt Watkins ever turns into a slugger but a 10-15 per year home runs for a 2nd baseman is pretty good.

            1. On The Farm

              I’ll take 10 HRs, good defense with Gold glove potential, and someone who is patient and gets on base for a 2B everyday of the week and twice on Sunday

              1. miggy80

                Gold Glove Potential? Have you seen this guy play?

                1. On The Farm

                  No Actually I have not, but I am just trusting the best man I have to give me that kind of information:

                  Luke
                  July 19, 2013 at 9:06 am
                  Watkins is an order of magnitude better defender than Theriot.

                  As in, he actually plays very good defense. His ceiling is in the Barney territory.

                  1. Edwin

                    I’d take most scouting reports like that with a grain of salt. If I had a nickle for every time I saw someone say something along the lines of “according to a scouting report this guy plays great defense” I’d have a shit load of nickels.

                  2. miggy80

                    To say that the potential is there is one thing, but from what I’ve seen it has not translated on the field. He has 12 errors at 2nd base in 76 games .965 fielding percentage. Starlin Castro this year has 14 errors in 92 games .964 fielding percentage. Darwin Barney has 2 errors in 79 games with a .994 fielding percentage

                    1. ssckelley

                      But you are judging what one veteran player is doing at the MLB level compared to a young 23 year old is doing in the minors. You look at what Barney did in the minors at his age and Watkins is comparable. Watkins overall fielding percentage in the minors is actually better than Barneys. I do not know much about Nelsons defensive abilities but I would guess having Rizzo at first base helps as well. At 23 years old Barney committed 25 errors for a .955 fielding percentage, Watkins is at 12/.965 so far this season at the same age. So if someone tells me Watkins has a ceiling of Barney defensively then it is believable.

                    2. miggy80

                      First off those 25 errors you mentioned came when Barney was playing SS. A much harder position. In fact Barney played most of his minor league as a SS. At age 24 Barney then raised his fielding percentage to .970 in 111 games at short stop. So there are the shoes that Watkins would have to fill to get into Barneys level.

                    3. On The Farm

                      I guess I am confused because I said I would take a guy with gold glove potential, and then you questioned if I had seen him play, so I provided a scout’s outlook. I am just not sure what you are arguing because your nexst post is to say he has potential is one thing…

                    4. miggy80

                      Well the guy is in AAA so he can play and if you’re going to make it in the Bigs you’ll have to adjust. With that being said I’m arguing that if we’re trading Barney now because we have Watkins then I would be against that move because Watkins is not ready and in my personal opinion there’s no way in hell that Watkins ever comes close to becoming a Barney.

            2. Jeff K

              Theriot’s power was admittedly non-existent. That said, I’m just not convinced that the limited power Watkins has shown in the minors will necessarily translate into 10-15 HRs per year in the majors. While I hope I’m wrong, I would expect single digit HRs from Watkins on a year-to-year basis. Either way, I’d still like to see him get his shot at 2nd for the Cubs due to his ability to get on base, provide some speed, and play good defense. If the power comes along, even better.

              1. ssckelley

                Don’t get me wrong I am not saying Watkins will be a 10-15 homer guy but the potential is there. His power has been developing well the past couple of years in the minors. Watkins first 1000 PA in the minors he hit 1 home run, his last 1000 he has hit 17. In over 2300 minor league plate appearances Theriot hit 5.

                1. Jeff K

                  I think we’re in violent agreement.

        2. On The Farm

          He The Riot hit 7 HRs one year. He is going to have more power than that?!

          1. ssckelley

            The wind was blowing out in those games.

            :D

      2. MichiganGoat

        Am I in Bizzarro BN? Two complimentary comments about Theriots defense- AM I IN HELL?

      3. Andrew

        defensively you might be right, but watkins can take walks, which makes his ceiling much higher than theriots.

      4. miggy80

        I disagree with the solid defender part of the comment. I’ve been able to catch him while he has been in Iowa and I’m not impressed with his defense at all. There were a couple double plays that he wasn’t able to turn that to my eye seemed routine. His range is about 2/3 of what Barneys is.

  10. Abe Froman

    I could see Luke being right, its not like Hoyer is going to say, “We are in the final stages of trading Barney but don’t tell him because he doesn’t know yet.”

  11. Ron

    Its a dry heat though.

  12. Rcleven

    “On the other hand, if no deal arrives then Lake has no obvious place to play every day.”
    “The only reason to call up Lake is to play him.”
    Could it be that Lake is the target in a trade?

    1. Rebuilding

      Not impossible, but it would seem strange to call him up and then trade him immediately.

    2. Jed Jam Band

      That sure would be an interesting wrinkle.

  13. Funn Dave

    “There are some things a player can develop while sitting on the bench and watching in the majors, but the reactions and experience necessary to handle third base at a high level is not on that list.”

    I agree with you, but I would also argue that if you are going to call up a player and put him at a position that’s still relatively new to him, this is the year. While it’s always nice to win, and even nicer to finish above the Brewers, and I do hope to avoid the embarassment of a hundred loss season, no one in his or her right mind has any expectation whatsoever of the Cubs competing this year. So if there’s a chance for Junior to get some big league experience while simultaneously getting some time in at a relatively new position, I figure we might as well go ahead and get two birds stoned at once. We don’t have much to lose.

  14. Cubbie Cop

    Luke,
    I have to agree with you on the heat, I live in Baltimore too and it’s been absolutely crazy hot. To the point where you don’t even want to go outside.

  15. fromthemitten

    At least it’s a dry heat in Arizona, it’s probably 30 degrees cooler in the dugout. That mid-Atlantic humidity will ruin you.

    RE: Lake. Could it possible that they’re showcasing him in the majors as a throw-in for a trade?

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