Junior Osvaldo Lake
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 215 lb.
Junior Lake made the major leagues in 2013.
Lake was signed in 2007 by Chicago Cubs scouts Jose Serra and Marino Encarnacion. He debuted with the DSL Cubs that summer and hit .274/.341/.404 with 16 doubles and 41 runs in 62 games. With the 2008 AZL Cubs, he batted .286/.335/.417 with 6 triples and 12 steals in 14 tries. He led Arizona League shortstops in putouts (52) and assists (114) and tied for 4th in the AZL in triples. Baseball America rated him as the #16 prospect in the AZL, between Seth Lintz and Kyle Nicholson. At age 19, he played in a full-season league, producing at a .248/.277/.365 clip for the Peoria Chiefs. He had 7 triples and 71 runs, but was clearly lacking key areas of his game (18 BB, 138 K, .922 fielding percentage at SS). He tied for 9th in the Midwest League in three-baggers.
Junior was with the Daytona Cubs for 2010; he hit .264/.333/.398 and fielded .925 at SS. Though his 35 errors led Florida State League shortstops, Baseball America listed him as the best defensive shortstop in the circuit. Lake split 2011 between Daytona (.315/.336/.498 in 49 G) and the Tennessee Smokies (.248/.300/.380 in 67 G), with 38 steals in 44 tries. He led Cubs minor leaguers in swipes. He then went 18-for-18 in steals for the Mesa Solar Sox while hitting a solid .296/.352/.548. He led the Arizona Fall League in stolen bases, four ahead of DJ LeMahieu.
Missing a month of 2012 due to a back strain, he hit .279/.341/.432 with 10 home runs and only 21 steals in 33 tries for the Smokies. His 24 errors tied Hak-ju Lee and Chris Gutierrez for the most by a Southern League shortstops. With the Estrellas Orientales that winter, he hit .312/.382/.474. He was among the Dominican League leaders in average (4th), OBP (5th), slugging (5th), OPS (4th, between Oscar Taveras and Rhyne Hughes), home runs (5, tied for 7th) and steals (11, tied for second with Jean Segura behind Eugenio Velez). Moving to third base with the '13 Iowa Cubs, Lake started fairly well (.295/.341/.462, 30 R in 40 G). He was then called up when Brian Bogusevic went on the DL.
Lake was used as a center fielder in his MLB debut after being an infielder throughout the minors. Hitting 6th against the Rockies, he doubled off Jorge De La Rosa in his first at-bat. He stole third. He added two more singles later (one off De La Rosa, one off Matt Belisle) for a 3-for-4 debut. He started his major league career 9 for 17 with a double and a home run. He ended up playing 64 games for the Cubs, hitting .284/.332/.428 good for an OPS+ of 106; he played exclusively in left field and center field, getting 56 starts between the two positions. Lake had a career day early in the 2014 season; unfortunately, it was too early to count. On March 23rd, he hit three homers and collected 6 RBI in a 10-6 Cactus League win over the Oakland Athletics. He platooned in left field for the Cubs when the regular season started, and when he had his next big day, it did count: on May 12th, he homered, doubled twice and drove in 6 runs to lead the Cubs to a 17-5 drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals. He played 108 games for the Cubs, splitting his time between left and center field. he only .211, but with 10 doubles and 9 homers, 30 runs scored and 25 RBIs. An awful K/W ratio of 110/14 really hampered his value, however, as his OPS+ was only 65. He then played sparingly in 2015, getting into 21 games and collecting only 54 at-bats with the Cubs over the first four months, during which he hit .224. He also played 58 games with Iowa, where he hit a solid .315 with 7 homers and 31 RBIs. On July 31st, he was sent to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran pitcher Tommy Hunter in a rare trading deadline deal that involved two contenders swapping major league players. The Orioles fell out of contention rather quickly, however, and Junior played only 8 games for them, going 3 for 22 (.136). He did hit .300 in 15 games for the AAA Norfolk Tides. The Orioles placed him on waivers after the season and on December 18th, he was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Main Source: 2013 Cubs Media Guide