24-Year-Old Shortstop – Tampa Bay Rays
2015 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Lee spent 2014 trying to make up for lost time after missing most of 2013 following surgery to repair a serious knee injury, and the results were alarmingly poor. He slashed .203/.287/.276 with four h...
Lee (hand) was activated from the DL at Triple-A Durham on Monday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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Tampa Bay Rays Roster
MajorsArcher, Chris (P)
AAAAndriese, Matt (P)
AAAcosta, Mayobanex (C)
A+Adames, Willy (SS)
RookieBetts, Chris (C)
Hak-Ju Lee: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Lee, a top position player prospect, was off to an excellent start of the season with Triple-A Durham. In the team's first 15 games, he hit .422/.536/.600 with one home run and six stolen bases. His season ended early after he suffered torn ligaments in his left knee, however. He has played shortstop throughout his career in the minors and is known for solid fielding and a strong arm to go along with great speed. The Rays have Yunel Escobar anchored at shortstop for 2014, which should allow Lee to rehab his knee completely and work back to full speed, most likely in Durham.
Lee is widely regarded as the Rays' top prospect, though he did not have an excellent year in 2012 at Double-A Montgomery. After a strong 2011, Lee hit .259/.334/.358 with four home runs and 37 RBI, but he did total 37 stolen bases in 2012. He increased his steal efficiency, getting caught nine times compared to 16 the previous season. He will need to improve his on-base percentage and polish up defensively (24 errors in 2012), but the Rays still believe his speed and ability will lead him to the big leagues. With Tampa Bay trading for Yunel Escobar, Lee will probably spend most of the season in the minor leagues. Although, if the Rays need to shift around the middle infield, Lee could still have his number called as soon as 2013.
Lee dominated at High-A Charlotte, batting .318 with four home runs and 28 stolen bases before being promoted to Double-A Montgomery. As most minor leaguers do, he struggled with adjusting to the higher level hitting only .190 over 100 at-bats. Lee is still figuring things out on the basepaths, finishing 33-for-49 (67 percent) between the two levels. While he may develop more power, his biggest potential fantasy asset will be his speed. The Rays brought Lee into the organization as an insurance policy in case that Tim Beckham doesn't pan out as their shortstop of the future. Lee will begin the season back at Double-A Montgomery with an eye on a promotion to Triple-A Durham later in the season.
Lee hit .282/.354/.351 with 32 steals in 485 at-bats for Low-A Peoria in the Midwest League last year, and drew positive reviews for his speed, on-base skills and defense. He hasn't shown any power, but he didn't turn 20 until November, and there's still time for him to develop, given his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. Expect Lee to see time at High-A and possibly Double-A this year, even after the Cubs traded him to the Rays as part of the Matt Garza deal in January.
Lee acquitted himself very well as an 18-year-old in the short season Northwest League, going .330/.399/.420 with 25 stolen bases in 33 attempts. He has excellent range at shortstop and a cannon for an arm, but is still unpolished and error prone. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Lee should develop more power, and he's already shown good on-base skills. Lee, who should start the year at Low-A Peoria, has as much upside as any prospect in the Cubs' system.
A high school star in Korea, Lee is still several years away from the majors, but scouts rave about his defense, his arm and his speed, and at 6-2, 185 pounds, Lee should develop good power.