Sometimes stepping out of the spotlight is all it takes to get your swing back. Just as Mike Olt did, Junior Lake has rediscovered his swing since he was sent down to AAA a little more than a week ago. In eight games since the move, Lake is hitting .293 with a home run and four RBI’s.
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Lake’s improvement has been promising, although he has struck out ten times in his eight games for the Iowa Cubs (he struck out 102 times in the big leagues this season).
We discussed earlier how Mike Olt is poised for a return to Wrigley Field in September due to his success at AAA; Junior Lake doesn’t appear to be in the same situation for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that Lake has only been with the Iowa Cubs for a week and he hasn’t “earned” a call-up. Mike Olt is deserving of a second shot because he showed a complete transformation in his offensive game over the course of more than a month. Lake would benefit more from getting regular at bats in AAA (assuming they make the playoffs next month) than he would getting pinch-hit appearances in the big leagues (Lake hit .103 as a PH for the Cubs this season). Additionally, finding time for Lake will be increasingly difficult due to the arrival of, prized prospect, Jorge Soler. Soler is expected to receive regular playing time, thus making competition between the team’s four other outfielders a little more competitive.
Everyone is excited that Junior Lake has shown such dramatic improvement but before he returns to the big leagues, he needs to prove that he can sustain his newfound success. He also needs to prove it relatively quickly as the Cubs now only have one outfield spot up for grabs (Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler have centerfield and rightfield on lock for the time being), and guys like Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora are inching closer and closer to the big leagues. If Lake takes too long to prove himself, there is a very real scenario where he finds himself out of a job in Chicago.
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