Junior Lake gets his chance to prove doubters wrong

Yesterday, Keith Law caused a bit of a stir on Twitter for his comments on the Waddle and Silvy Show regarding Junior Lake.  In essence he said that, Lake “is not a good prospect”.  He also said that he had bad instincts, can’t hit a breaking ball, and  is likely to turn into Steve Lake, a backup catcher known for a strong arm and weak bat.

Of course some of this is just exaggeration for effect.  Law likes to stir the pot.  So some of that should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

To be clear, I’m not one of these guys who thinks Junior Lake is the second coming of Willie Mays or even Yasiel Puig for that matter.  I’m not even sure he’s a big league regular yet.

I’m also not yet sure that he’s not.

Some have been predicting the demise of Junior Lake for years, a few even from the time he signed and most of them pretty much since he’s been in A ball.  A couple (including Law) predicted he’d be converted into a pitcher,  an idea that seems rather silly now, and it’s one that was never actually considered by the Cubs.

Despite predictions that his approach would not work at the upper levels, Lake has continued to succeed against higher levels of competition, as we noted in this previous article on Lake.  He has now hit .294/.341/.459 since 2012, which includes a rise through AA, AAA, and now MLB.  He has also been an above average offensive player as measured by advanced metrics such as wOBA and RC+.  He’s at the point now where the only level he can fail at now is the MLB level.  In that respect, he has already beaten the odds that every prospect faces simply by making it to the big leagues.

But don’t expect anyone to be satisfied yet.

While opinion remains split on Lake, nobody seems to question that Lake has tools.  It’s more about whether he can develop the approach and baseball-specific skill to utilize them consistently.  I think that’s a legitimate question.  Scouts should be skeptical.  But to flat out decide he won’t ever do that seems a bit cocksure.  And nothing is ever that certain when it comes to prospects, one way or the other — especially when they have the raw talent and eye-popping athleticism that Lake does.

A more nuanced perspective comes from Cubs PBO Theo Epstein via this article from Patrick Mooney,

“He’s got a chance to be a really exciting player,” team president Theo Epstein said. “But there’s still a lot of development left. He’s got that incredible physical ability, amazing tools, where when he is locked in, and when he is seeing the ball well, he can do some things on the baseball field that make you drop your jaw.”

One top evaluator from another organization I spoke with likes what he sees in Lake as well, saying the Cubs need players with high upside.  And even if he doesn’t reach that, he noted that Lake can do so many things on the baseball field that have value to a team even if he doesn’t hit as well as we all hope, offering the potential for speed, power, and versatility off the bench.

Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs also takes a more balanced approach in his analysis of Lake.

What we can take from all of this is that it’s far too early to decide Junior Lake’s fate you shouldn’t completely rule out the possibility that players with athleticism and tools won’t be able to translate them to productive baseball skills.  Junior Lake may still be raw, but he’s a far better player than he was just a few years ago, when Lake hit .248/.277/.365 at Class A Peoria with atrocious defense in 2009 — and then had a disastrous start to the 2010 season at Daytona (.187 with 0 HRs at the all-star break).

Since that first half, Lake has steadily improved as an offensive player as noted by his .800 OPS since 2012 in nearly 600 PAs.  Even his approach isn’t quite as wild as it once was.  He’s improved a bit on defense, though that part of his progress hasn’t been quite so dramatic.  So we know he’s capable of developing better baseball skills.  We know he can improve and adjust because he’s already done it at the highest levels short of the majors.

Just how much he can continue to do that remains to be seen, but with Alfonso Soriano in New York Lake will certainly get his chance.  For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the Junior Lake show and hope that he continues to prove his doubters wrong.

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  • Who knows how good he will become, but raw talent is good
    for any prospect. Let's hope that he easly learns from instruction
    and he is teachable.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    There's that chance and he's still a huge question mark, but the Cubs will get a long look at him from here until the end of the season. I hope he continues to improve and develop -- but no guarantees in baseball.

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    He reminds me a lot of a young, raw Sammy Sosa type of player, a guy who has all of the tools to succeed but also might not ever put it all together. But if he can hit at least .250 ish, he's going to have a decent big league career because teams will keep giving him chances because of the talent. If he can actually play some infield in the majors and not hurt his team his floor would probably be a valuable super sub. Regardless of what he ends up being or not being, he needs a lot of ab's to find out.

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    With 6m coming off the books and a roster spot, this FO has proven that we can get a starting pitcher and an outfielder for that amount of money. I liked Sori but this rebuild is really getting fun to watch.

    As for Lake, there are tons of examples of guys making it or not making it despite the scouting reports. How many Dallas McPherson's have there been?

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Or Josh Vitters. A lot of these guys who don't like Lake were the same ones who liked Vitters so much.

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    What's the scouting report on Keith Law?

  • Gets an 80 on the scouting scale for snark.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ironically, I'd give him an 80 on the scale for being a '''con'.

  • In reply to djriz:

    What good is a baseball scout who flip flops on his opinions when a guy has a really good week? Baseball has so many peaks and valleys for a production over a course of a season any season, they need to stick to their beliefs otherwise whatever they are saying at any given time is irrelevent. They can't be influenced by a weeks wworth of data. Law is of the opinion that Lake will not be a good MLB baseball player. And nothing Junior Lake has done so far has disproven that. And the nature of the business he is in means Law will be wrong more often then he is right. Every scout is wrong a lot, and many of their predictions will be laughable in hindsight. Recording his opinions for public consumption is the opposite of being a con.

    I think Lake is too good of an athlete and has the ability to help out in too many different ways to not find some role in the majors, even if it isn't as a starter. But I can totally see why people would doubt him. There are plenty of times Junior Lake leaves you scratching your head.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    First. I totally agree with you about Junior Lake. No way one week tells his story. He could start every game for the rest of this year, and we still wont know his story. And, sadly, I don't disagree with what Law said about Lake. Yes, I hope he's wrong, but his views seem to be the consensus.

    Second. My view of Keith Law has nothing to do with what he said about Lake. I just think he is a 'faux' scout. I find his 'snark' fake, his knowledge of Literature and cooking fake. His time in the Toronto FO overstated. Do I have proof? No. Just my impression. What I do think he's good at is marketing Keith Law. Thus my 'con' reference.

    (Disclaimer: I really don't care for anyone who makes their career by insulting and demeaning people, like a Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsey, and yes, Keith Law).

  • In reply to djriz:

    His job is to have opinions, some of which have to be negative. If he said every prospect was great and every one was bound to be a superstar then there wouldn't be any point. I happen to find his interest and willing to discuss other subjects the opposite of fake. But I can totally understand someone not enjoying his delivery or personality.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I understand when talking about prospects, if you are honest, you have to be critical. You don't have to be demeaning.

  • In reply to djriz:

    That I would agree on. He does cross that line on occasion.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL...Nice ....Law is trying to be "cool" again and failing...again.

  • John, My belief is that Junior Lake's performance since he was called up had something to do with the Soriano trade. For the first time since the FO came to Chicago, Soriano was blocking a player that they wanted to evaluate on an everyday basis.

  • In reply to les561:

    That may have turned up the urgency, yes. Without Lake there, they really wouldn't be blocking anyone.

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    Junior Lake played a TOTAL of 6 games in the outfield in the minors (all in RF this year). So 13 games as an OF'er in his life. That's crazy when you realize he had played 6 games and was called up to play CF in the majors. it also gives hope that he can fix his defensive issues and become a decent OF'er with more experience. He has the talent. I'm not sure there are many players who could play 6 games in the OF in their lives and come start in MLB as a CF'er.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    It also seems to show how much trust the FO have in him if they are willing to call him up to play a position that he has never played before.

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    In reply to supercapo:

    Yep. And I know they're not a contending team and are in a bind for healthy OF'ers who are on the 40 man roster. But it's still impressive. I think Hoyer was not sure Junior wouldn't look overmatched both offensively and defensively, which is why he was saying on the radio Lake would only be here 7-10 days until DeJesus was activated.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I swear I remember him playing some cf this year. Maybe in AZ?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I think he played a bit in instructional league and winter ball, but that's still a rapid adjustment.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That goes to show his natural talent. I think he's already better in the OF than he is in the IF.

  • With Soriano and Garza gone, Junior Lake is one of the few reasons left to watch this team for the last two months with Samardzija, Castro and Rizzo being the others.

    I read today about the credit rightly given to OF Coach Dave McKay. He is the one that motivated Sori to get better and then worked with him to make him better. It will benefit Lake greatly to have a coach like this working with him at length to make him a better OF'er.

    Should be fun to watch.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Agree completely. Just like watching Rizzo last year. Fans need something to like about what is happening.

  • I read a chat with Keith Law yesterday, and he had this to say regarding Lake..... "he has a few tools, not all of them, but has no clue how to use them".

  • In reply to Ryno23:

    It is pretty sad when guys like Law go from evaluating prospcts to having an agenda. It turns them from professional to hacks, and that is what he has become on the Lake issue. He is well noted as saying the guy is nothing.

    Now, as Ryno points out he says he has some tools, but has no clue how to use them.

    Well being objective (which he should strive for) he should he is completely, and totally, 100% wrong on Junior Lake. Junior Lake made it to the MLB, based on his play, not some freak chance. On top of that he has now done something only three other people in the history of the game have done.

    That proves he does know how to use his tools. It proves also that Law is petty and small and his analysis IMO should be valued less. Why? Once he forms an opinion on a guy he is apt to keep it and even defend it when clear proof shows he is wrong.

    I say all this understanding that Lake is an open book, anything can still happen in his career, good or bad. That said he brought his game to the level to get a shot at the show, something only a small fraction of prospects ever get to do. On top of that he has done something only 3 major leaguers have done since 1900. That alone should be enough for Mr. Law to say he was wrong and more time needs to be given to evaluate his ceiling, but no Mr. Law is always right, and Lake is a piece of baseball garbage, just lucky garbage.

  • Prospects like Lake, and we have a few, should developed at
    their own pace and given all the time they need to see if they
    are part of our future. Don't trade a young player to soon.

  • Law has that "Dan Bernstein" feel about him. He's so bitchy all the time that you wonder whether he's forgotten how to enjoy himself.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Well said about both guys....

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:


  • In reply to Eddie:

    Bernstein is THE reason I stopped listening to the Score

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Seriously, me too. I use to strictly listen to the Score, but they are such know-it-all pricks that's it's intolerable to listen to. AM1000 it is.

  • I would feel confident already saying he is the best bunter on the team... bunting is an art not many can do, he has been fun to watch.

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    Calico Junior!

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    We should trade Lake now, sell high. Maybe we can get a Junior Lake type prospect back for him.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:


  • It seems like Law has just refused to change his scouting report on Lake even though he has vastly improved throughout his minor league career. The fact he has come up and played a position he has never played shows he knows how to use his tools, and should be given credit for having a better baseball IQ then people thought. Just watching him bunt in certain situations and his demeanor at the plate makes me believe he knows how to use his tools.

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    What does Keith Law have to gain or lose professionally in any of this? He has been plenty wrong and plenty right in his career as an analyst and he's not going anywhere. But now he's got everybody in the industry talking about him and reading his work. So mission accomplished.

    It's not like we are going to exile him to a hostel in Bratislava if he's wrong or line up to kiss his ass if he's right on Lake.

    OK - I watched the Hostel marathon on IFC the other night to escape the Matt Garza trade talks......

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    There are several writers/media guys I would love to see in Hostel. :)

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    His goal, at least in part, was to get a reaction and draw some attention to himself. He enjoys riling up fans that don't agree with him. So yeah, mission accomplished.

    But the article was meant more to illustrate that these guys are indeed wrong. The reaction seemed to be twofold --either Law is a (select choice word here) or he's absolutely right because he's Keith Law.

    I think Lake deserved a better analysis than snarky cheapshots, so that's what we tried to do here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for saying this John. ALL baseball players deserve more than 'snarky cheapshots' So do fans. If a guy thinks a prospect isn't going to be any good, it's okay to tell us, but don't degrade the person. Law does.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Thanks and that's exactly the problem I had with it. Callis, Badler, Parks, Sickels, and every scout I have ever talked to can all criticize without resorting to those kinds of remarks.

  • Let's hope that if we have prospects like Lake our coaches can
    develop their ability to its fulliest

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Amen to that. Cubs coaching staff's of the past were not known for player development. in fact, just the opposite. Lets hope this group can develop young talent because there is going to be a lot of it moving through the organization in the coming years and getting the right coaching will make all the difference.

  • Is getting to play around Major Leaguers (and coaches) everyday worth nothing?

    Most are not born with his gifts. He wouldn't be the first player to "get better" by moving up to the big leagues. It doesn't always work, but it always doesn't work either.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Very true. Many players improve in the big leagues -- not that Lake was terrible in the minors.

  • After Sori's comments of how Dave McKay helped him so much maybe he can continue to improve Lake and the cubs 2015 OFs prospects

  • In reply to Swmrdak79:

    Yep, I was thinking the same thing.

  • Lake seems to me a case of scouting overthink. He's progressed and succeeded at every level. He's been able to make adjustments to continue that success at each level. Why are we to believe that that will now stop simply because he's on the big club?

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    Haha! I dig the handle.

    And I really like that observation. Nice post.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Happy coincidence. It's my old nick from back in the AOL days from something John Coleman used to say a lot on the channel 7 weathercast. Those were the days...John Drury, Joel Daly, Tim Weigel...MaryAnne something...Art Petacque (just kidding, Art Petacque was awful).

    With Garzapalooza and Soriadios out of the way, I'm not allowing myself to get sucked in by NateGate and Gregg...gate-apalooza.
    I am looking for richly detailed farm reports (including pitch-by-pitch Corey Black updates) and game recaps that would make Jerome Holtzman proud. No pressure guys! But seriously, you all work too friggin' hard. Hats off.

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    Well, it still works!

    And thanks!

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    Good point !!! Esp, it seems, with *this* coaching staff!!

  • John, nice article. Two follow-up questions:

    1. What specifically does Lake need to improve upon/show to make you believe "Yep, he's a major league starter"? I'm assuming laying off bad stuff, defensive consistency, and baserunning, but those are just guesses.

    2. How is his "6th tool", i.e. mental make-up?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Mental makeup is definitely plus. You won't find many players who will work harder. He's a great teammate.

    What Lake lacks is a refined approach. He's still more athlete than baseball players. He's never going to be the kind of polished player that some prefer, but he can at least improve his approach to the point where he swings at strikes. He's going to be aggressive both in his play and in the strike zone. Nothing is going to change that and nobody should change that. It's what makes him such an exciting player. You just want him to corral it enough to where he doesn't give away as many ABs and learns the nuances of his defensive position -- whatever that turns out to be.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You know John the biggest problem I have with Law on this issue is how far Lake has come in the past couple years and that he is 23. Law should be big enough to say that this kid has surpassed my expectations and it should be fun to see where such an athlete ends up.

    He is two years from STARTING his prime years, and he has improved at a fantastic rate. If his progress continues he absolutely has the ability to start on a playoff caliber team. For Law to act like he still is a nothing prospect on a hot streak really takes away my trust in his analysis of prospects. At this point would anyone be shocked that in three years lake is a 270/320/450 type player? With the ability to play third, short, second, and all 3 OF spots, that would be a plus player for 30 MLB teams, not one team can't use a guy like that, and he has a chance to be that guy.

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    I would be absolutely shocked if Junior Lake played SS or 2B in the major leagues on anything other than an emergency basis. He is pretty terrible there. He really doesn;t have the soft hands you like to see from an infielder.

    But you are right regarding Law in that he doesn't seem to take into account any of Lake's improvement, but he very may well feel Lake still has a long way to go and that he is 23, so how long will it take him, or will he ever get there.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Yes, I didn't spell it out but I agree, second and short would be extra innings, injury fill in for a game or two. But he has the physical ability to do it in a pinch, and that is worth something.

    Lake doesn't seem "very" far away but hey if that is his take fine. Still there are plenty of productive players that don't come up until 25,26,27, so to say he doesn't have time isn't true. Nobody is out here saying we are looking at a HOF, or even a 5 time AS. People are just saying he can be a productive member of a good team, and at 23 that seems like it is very possible.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    It's nice to have a prospect with this raw talent and have to
    wonder if he can deveop it.

  • Was Lake promoted based on having had the requisite experience and success in the minors, or was it because of injuries and the impending trade of Sori? Looking at his numbers he only had 156 ABs in AAA so it seems like they might have rushed him.

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    What's frustrating here is that you have a kid with unreal physical tools, infectious energy, and playing for a marquee franchise, and there are many just ready to celebrate when he fails.

    I'm not sure Lake is going to be able to adjust to the advanced scouting reports. I get that these are smart people and it's significant that Lake has never appeared on top 100 lists. But, much like major leaguers, the prospect rankers can make a mistake and still be good at their jobs. Seems like remembering that would help them here.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:


    One thing I keep in the back of my mind is that the fantastic athletes are the ones that are the toughest to build a scouting book on. Simply because they do things that shouldn't be able to happen. Somebody will get a book on him and the pitcher will nail the spot on the scouting report and Lake will launch a 400ft homer.

    I hope he is able to adjust to scouting reports, I have no doubt he is a big leaguer if he can. But he fantastic athleticism gives him a chance to be productive even if not.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Prospect rankers are BAD at their jobs. Out of all the prospects at any given time, you'd think they'd be at least half right about a Top 100 list, but they aren't.

  • Law seems to get married to his first impression of players. Saw it to the Cubs' advantage with him consistently ranking Arodys Vizcaino higher than most, but to our disadvantage with him beating up Junior Lake. Generally I think Law is more right than wrong, but that's a bad attribute to have as a player evaluator. Lake's made me a believer with his last couple minor league seasons, but I'm still not sure he's going to be able to make the adjustments once the league adjusts to him. With Lake showing himself to be two different players at times, that's the smart opinion to have right now - on the fence. Anyone like Law who acts so sure of Lake's future sends up red flags that they're just trying to validate their previous predictions.

  • Law is such a wanna be fraud. He has been saying Lake would never be a big league players for years now. Oops. Same Law who said Travis Wood would never be more than a fifth starter. Double oops.
    When do these clowns ever get held accountable for their botched wanna be scouting reports?

  • For every player like Barney a team should have one like Lake.

  • Law just tries to be outlandish/extreme to be popular/relevant imo. he works for ESPN. so how is that not surprising

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    Mayo re-ranked his top 100, and the outcome is kind of laughable.

    Alcantara is nowhere close to the Top 100, and #8 in the Cubs organization, behind Pierce Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino. Edwards dropped notch and is now behind Vogelbach (????). Huge split in the overall rankings between Baez (#11) and Almora (#25). And Cabrera is #20 behind guys like Jackson, Underwood, and Ha.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    In case anyone was wondering

    11 Baez
    25 Almora
    30 Soler
    40 Bryant
    63 Olt

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    While I don't agree with most of his rankings, some are not totally unjustifiable. Being #8 in a system as good as teh Cubs is not really such a bad thing. And if Mayo believes Johnson and Vizcaino can be number 2 starters than I can see ranking them ahead of Alcantara. Not sure I even understand a complaint about a huge split when the guys are 14 spots apart. And some people think Edwards and Cabrera could wind up in the bullpen so ranking them behind guys that he feels could be part time or full time starters is reasonable.

    Really, what would be the fun or the point of rankings if every list one was the same. The guy just has a different opinion.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Edwards has had a dominant season whereas Vogelbach has been good. How does that lead to slipping a notch for Edwards? If you're updating based on performance this season, Edwards has to come out stronger than Vogelbach.

    Johnson is in A ball and Vizcaino hasn't recovered from TJ -- in fact run into a setback. Alcantara, meanwhile, is one of the most dynamic hitters in the Southern League. Without any disrespect towards Vizcaino and Johnson, the floor/ceiling combination right now is so skewed to Alcantara that it's an unjustifiable ranking.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Because scouting and rankings are about projection as much as they are about production. I don't know if its the case, but maybe Edwards is dominating because he is blowing a fastball by hitters, but his secondary pitches haven't improved or have regressed. Or maybe he is losing weight over the course of the season and Mayo thinks he may struggle to hold up as a starter. And maybe he sees Vogelbach's willingness to be a complete hitter as opposed to just a power hitter as a sign that he can develop into a top rate DH.

    As I said, I don't really agree with how he has ranked them, but to say he can't justify his reasoning is pretty uncharitable. He obviously puts some thought into his adjustments.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mayo's rankings are always a little bit different....I highly doubt too many others will rank Matt Szczur ahead of CJ Edwards, or Ha ahead of pretty much anybody

    Also speaks to our depth. He ranks Cubs #3 overall, which isn't too far off.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    How much cred can you give a ranking pundit who considers Baez to have '4' for current power?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think we should make a reader ranking of the top 10 prospects. We can do it one poll at a time. Vote on #1 and then vote on who is left for #2, etc.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    #1 will be determined by whether Baez has 3 Ks or 3 HRs the day of the poll :-D

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, how do I rank him if he does both in one game? (which doesn't seem so far fetched)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is true -- some go back and forth based on recent performance. I'd be willing to bet Javier Baez would win at this point with Almora 2nd.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're probably right. After the last month, I'd go 1) Almora 2) Baez based on polish and floor/ceiling combination, but it is close.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, that is an excellent idea! I guess 1 August, after the trading deadline, would be the time to do it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John -

    Would it be better to have everyone rank their top 10, then display the top average rank as number one, second average rank as two, etc? You could even have an others receiving votes like college football.

    It would take a lot less time. And voters would not be influenced by who came in 2nd in the first place vote.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That'd be awesome.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Excelllent idea. You have to worry though about idiots making silly picks well outside the conventional Top 10 picks that skew the results. Like, I dunno, say, Shawn Dunston Jr.

    Also, I am that idiot.

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    Ha! I think Shawon, Jr. is great. Definitely a top 30 guy, though probably more towards the back of that for now.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm just curious as to why he'd do that before the deadline. If you're going to do that, and then have a write-up for each franchise, why not wait another week and make sure you've got all the big prospect names playing for the right organizations?

  • Keith Law has good taste in board games, and cooking, and he is quite right to point out that the general lack of outrage at a DUI in comparison to the outrage over a PED user is pretty disgusting. And I think he should be applauded for speaking openly about mental illness which is still a pretty taboo subject in the world. And he is a pretty entertaining writer.

    His taste in books and his ranking of Cubs prospects leave a lot to be desired though.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I do like his taste in board games. I have a few of them myself.

    I want to clarify to all that I don't mean to disparage him overall -- just that Cubs fans deserved better analysis regardless of his opinion or whether any of us agreed with it. Instead, he made a conscious choice to stir up the pot. He's a good analyst and he should be above that. It was disappointing.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I love board games so it is always good to find others with an appreciation. That is just one more reason you are good people. A Cubs fan, you can quote Shakespeare, and you are a board game player. That puts you pretty high on my ranking of bloggers.

    I didn't think you were disparaging him. He deserves criticism for comments that are pretty clearing meant to incite. I just though that in a whole list of comments directed at treating Law the way he treated Lake, at least someone should try to point out that Law does have some good points, just like Lake. As I'm sure you know, having to put out so much material everyday isn't easy. And I'm sure when doing a radio interview where sound bites are what matter, there is a tendency to give into that temptation.

    I have respect for all of those national and regional writers. Its hard. Especially for those in the scouting circles where their work is based entirely on opinion because they are going to draw a lot of ire from fans simply because their opinions are going to be unpopular. They are going to be wrong a lot and will have people throwing it back in their faces all the time. I'm sure it requires very thick skin.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Thanks for the kind words, mjvz. And totally agree on Law. I actually like Law's analysis when he does them without any other agenda. He's very descriptive and it gives you a really good feel for the player whether it's positive or negative. I can just do without the snark sometimes. There's a place for it, but I don't think it belongs in professional player analysis, which is what many of us were hoping to hear. Wanted to hear the good, analytical version of Keith Law in that instance.

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    Yesterday I made a list of the top prospects of the Cubs. I through the rosters from A- thru AAA. I could have went through each roster but I figured I'd draw the line somewhere. Then I tried to make my very own top 20 list.

    I gotta tell you. It ain't that easy! Even putting the top 4 in any kind of order is rather difficult and arguments can be made why guys should be moved up or down. An exercise that I started out for fun gave me fits.

    A lot of props have to go out to John, Tom, Felzy, and the whole crew to keep us abreast of just the Cubs system. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to put a realistic ranking on all the prospects that play professional baseball!

    Great work guys!

  • I wish they could quiet his hands down. They were able to modify Rizzo's swing as a 22 year old, would be nice if they could work similar magic with Lake.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    If he uses his hands as a timing device or another valid reason, maybe he's better off not trying to make that adjustment. I remember Ernie Banks always had his fingers in motion while he had his swing cocked..

  • Jed (Denver)

    Who is the best example you remember of a prospect who turned it around by changing/fixing a mechanical issue?
    Klaw (2:08 PM)

    Bautista, Samardzija, Ryan Zimmerman (had a brutal leak at the plate as a prospect). Actually happens quite a bit, but the only common thread among players who do it is that they tend to be good to very good athletes.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ was a question in keiths chat yesterday. he sees flaws in lake, and the flaws are there (although he has done a great job of hiding them so far). it is very possible that his flaws get exposed sooner or later, but clearly he has the atheleticism to fix it, like these other players did.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Exactly. And that's why you never give up on guys like Lake. I think on a deeper level, even Law would admit that.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Will Corey Black be on the 40 man roster? If not, am I counting correctly with only 37 players on the list with many guys on the DL that may need to be added later like:

    Ryan Sweeney
    Brian Bogusevic
    Arodys Vizcaino
    Zach Putnam
    Kyuji Fujikawa
    Rafael Dolis
    Scott Baker

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    He does not need to be added to 40-man roster. We should have an open slot now.

    We do have alot of 60-day players we'll have to deal with eventually, though I also think looking at our 40-man there are alot of fairly drop-able players.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I was thinking that we really look to be in good shape as far as the roster goes. Just trying t think ahead for the upcoming moves this offseason. Next year is really gonna be a fun year for us. We might miss the playoff again (maybe not) but the team on the field should be fun to watch.

    Another amazing turn of events is the current depth chart with an eye towards the 2015 and 2016 seasons. If you try to make a list of whom might play and where they might play it gets difficult.

    Where will Baez play? He could realistically play in 4 or 5 different positions. This in turn would have a domino effect on many others. This is to say that all of our prospects pan out and make it to the show.

    Our bench should be solid as well with guys like:

    Gonna be exciting as well as having some high class problems. Things sure have changed on the Northside!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Black doesn't need to be added yet, I believe. Cubs have a lot of decisions to make there.

  • Great article, John. Just because a guy isn't an elite prospect doesn't mean he can't be successful in the majors. I feel like Law, along with other "experts" occasionally get caught up in a group-think of projecting ML numbers based on minor league numbers, which doesn't always work.

    I find it funny how, before this season, everybody was saying that Mike Trout's 2012 season was so good that it would be the best of his career by far and he couldn't possibly approach it, based on historical player performance and his minor league numbers. Well, he's doing just that this year...

  • In reply to Tom Jacks:

    Thanks Tom. And I do think group think comes into play sometimes.

  • An 80 on the snark scale ? Must have had only one foot on the. (:

  • Is Lake considered to be a "5 tool player?"

  • In reply to fsufrenzy911:

    My opinion. No. Hit tool in question. Power doesn't play up like you would think. Fielding...not yet anyway.

    So two plus tools. Arm and Speed. Maybe Avg power. Below avg. hit (but improving) and well below avg defense.

  • In reply to fsufrenzy911:

    Hit tool and defense aren't quite there. Definitely has the other 3 tools and may be a better defender once he learns the OF. I don't think he'll ever hit for high average, despite the hot start.

  • The guys we got rid of has a scouting report awfully like Lake:
    (FROM 1998)
    2. Alfonso Soriano, SS
    Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170
    Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998/Japan Signed by: Gordon Blakeley
    Background: After a dominant Eastern League first half, Soriano was being called perhaps the best prospect in the minors. A minor injury and struggles against higher-level pitching hurt the buzz only slightly.

    Strengths: Soriano’s combination of speed, quickness, bat speed and surprising strength is exciting. He also could develop above-average power as he recognizes pitches better. His athletic ability and quick release make the spectacular play at short look easy.

    Weaknesses: Soriano’s consistency on defense doesn’t match his tools, causing routine-play errors. After the initial success, he often swung wildly at early-count pitches. Despite 4.1 speed to first, his baserunning needs work.

    The Future: Because of Derek Jeter, Soriano could move to second, third or even left field. The Yankees dismiss the outfield but don’t mention another possibility–a trade for starting pitching.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Wow. That's kind of eerie. You could sub Lake's name in there and it could actually work.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    As much as people disliked Soriano's contract, I'm not sure anyone would be opposed to having the next Soriano, especially for his productive younger days.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    We do have the next Soriano. Outside of his speed, Baez has many of the same attributes.

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    I remembered reports like that and was looking for them myself. Thanks for finding it.

    One thing I did turn up: by 2000 Sori was #16 on BAs list. So, clearly, he had fixed some of those issues in scouts minds.

    If you really want to laugh/cry, top 10 in 2000:
    1) Rick Ankiel
    2) Pat Burrell
    3) Corey Patterson
    4) Vernon Wells
    5) Nick Johnson
    6) Ruben Mateo
    7) Sean Burroughs
    8) Rafael Furcal
    9) Ryan Anderson
    10) John Patterson

    A pretty nice warning about expecting too much from Javier Baez.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Look a little deeper though. If you take the top 20 from that year, 12 of the 20 players have had "successful" 10+ year long careers.

    According to BA, Baez, Soler, Almora, Bryant, and Olt are all currently in the top 20 (except for Olt, who was 22nd at the beginning of the year). 60% of 5 is 3. If 3 of these players have 10+ year careers for the Cubs, I consider it to be an EXTREME success.

    You can't expect every top prospect the Cubs get to be a HOF'er. If the Cubs end up with a Wells, Burrell, and Furcal out of what they have now, for the next 10 years, that is one hell of a base for a competitive team.

  • WHAT IF Junior Lake had not gotten hurt in ST and Dale had taken him North instead of the forgettable Brent Lillibredge?

  • On the topic of "experts." MLB Network had Callis on the broadcast of the Triple-A All-Star Game. Same approach as Law in trashing those he did not like non-stop. And it was weird. Instead of the usual hype everyone and everything that usually goes with such events, there was dialog like this:

    "If he gets a hit the tying run will come to the plate."
    Callis: "But we know THAT's not going to happen."

    Players, managers, executives, can all be fans, the experts... It doesn't seem like it.

  • Sometimes you have to be careful with media talking heads.

    I can't believe the number of people that consider Josh Vitters "done". He is only 23!!!!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Done is a strong word. But I could easily see him bouncing around several AAA teams for the next 3-4 years. More likely than sticking on a 25-man roster, IMO.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Totally agree

  • So... we've got guys like A-Rod and Ryan Braun in baseball... yet Keith Law is going to go out of his way to call Junior Lake a "con"?

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    To me, whether Lake is a starter or not or what value he plays depends alot on WHERE he plays. The problem I think is that he is not a plus defender right now at ANY position.

    He has not shown the power or OBP ability to play an OF corner everyday

    He's been erratic in the infield, apparently

    He may have the bat for CF if he can master that, but this week shows he has some work to do in CF.

  • One thing I've noticed with Lake since last year and even his shortened spring training and brief minor league stop is his physique. He is definitely starting to fill out that lanky build and his swing has less whip to it and is considerably smoother. This should help him generate more gap and home run power. I'm rooting for the kid anyhow and hope he has success because he is fun to watch.

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    I get the feeling that, if Keith Law were a dog, he'd be the kind of dog who likes to hear himself bark.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I thought you were going somewhere else with this. :-)

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    In reply to djriz:

    Well, someone further up in the thread, RRK I think, asked what Keith Law's scouting report was. To which I can only think to reply, "You'd have to ask his wife, but I'd bet he is a little light with the bat, and I'd bet he's not very useful up the middle either."

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:


  • Dave McKay helped turn Soriano into an adequate defender and I expect he'll help turn Lake into a very good defender. I just hope Junior can stay poised enough to take advantage of the GOLDEN opportunity that has emerged for him over this past week. He's got a chance to stick around and make some money! Maybe one of these days he'll take a 5k brick and stick it up Keith Law's ass.

  • The thing that impresses me about Lake is his willingness and ability to bunt. He has tremendous power with potential for even more as he continues to get stronger and yet is willing and able to get on via the bunt. The other night when he went bunt hit, HR, bunt hit. Size, speed, power and a great arm will keep him in the lineup somewhere.

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    Anyone see this?

    Henry Schulman ‏@hankschulman 3m

    Moscoso 7-5, 3.93 ERA for the AAA Iowa Cubs. #sfgiants sending Cubs cash or PTBNL

  • I think the reason Law and others say what the do is for the notoriety. I call it the espn effect the more outrageous or controversial the better. I really think espn needs to take the p out of their name just strictly entertainment .

  • oops espn need to take s out of their name.

  • Think about this : in his first 7 games, Junior Lake has 15 hits. That ties him for THIRD among the 10s of thousands of MLB players to debut since 1900. How do you label the THIRD BEST start over the last 113 years a "bad prospect"?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Now that's an eye-popping stat. Every so often there seems to be a prospect that reaches the majors and over-achieves his minor league stats during his career and Lake might turn out to be that guy. The most extreme example of that would be Albert Pujols, who only had a total of 544 PA in the minors and didn't even perform for that long in high A or AAA with a total of only 95 PAs. His numbers were good at Peoria but certainly didn't forecast that he'd appear in 161 games as a rookie and OPS 1.013 with the Cards. Perhaps Junior, Pujols, Castro, and other rookie phenoms find that the better control that pitchers have in the majors plays to their superior contact abilities.

  • Keith Law:

    Have you seen Junior's grades?


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    NARRATOR: Junior Lake did not prove his doubters wrong

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