The Toronto Blue Jays have claimed outfielder/utility man Junior Lake off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. Lake, who originally came up as a buzz-worthy prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization, is likely to provide organizational depth for the Blue Jays from the AAA level in Buffalo.
Lake had been designated for assignment by the Orioles on December 10th after joining Baltimore at the trade deadline in exchange for Tommy Hunter. The only newsworthy contribution of Lake’s to the 2015 season was his role in starting a benches-clearing altercation between the Cubs and Marlins.
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Lake had gestured towards the Miami dugout after his two run home run, which came as Chicago trailed 6-0. So whether it’s basic logic or his mathematics, Toronto has something to work on.
For his career, the 6’3″, 215-pound Lake holds a slash line of .237 / .278 / .377 (gulp), with his best season (2013, CHI) earning a 1.5 WAR per FanGraphs. His minor league numbers offer some encouragement, however, and Lake is still young.
Over 127 career games as the AAA level, Lake has hit .299 with an .821 OPS, stealing 28 bases. If Lake can put up similar numbers and keep a spot in Buffalo filled, that’s all Toronto can ask for. He could be in competition with Melky Mesa, Ezequiel Carrera, Dalton Pompey or Dwight Smith Jr. come spring if the Jays plan to use him primarily in the outfield.
Given Toronto’s outfield depth at the Major League level, however, plus the possibility that Anthony Alford could be moved up the ladder at some point in the season, there’s not much to see in the outfield with Junior Lake. He does have extensive experience at shortstop and elsewhere around the diamond, so if that talent and versatility can be channeled properly, he could be a nice utility depth piece.