Let's take a look at 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Players are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade. Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues.
Without further ado, let’s find out if Hak-Ju Lee makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – The International free agent has been able to hold his own at each stop in the minors. Lee is considered a smart, game-oriented player that should be able to stick at shortstop for a long time. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – Lee has kept his strikeout-to-walk rate around 2:1 each year in the minors. The shortstop K’s in about 20% of his at-bats – a number you would like to see improve from a non-power hitter. Rating: 7 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – The left-handed hitting prospect has decent contact ability, which has led to solid batting average throughout the minors. Baseball America doesn’t expect a .300 hitter here, but his minor league track record indicates a .270-.280 hitter could be a possibility. Rating: 8 out of 10.
4) Power – Shortstop isn’t where you usually look for power for your fantasy team, and you aren’t going to find it here either. Maybe 5-to-10 homeruns a season are possible in Tropicana Stadium. Rating: 6 out of 10.
5) Speed – So far in the minors, the shortstop has seasons of 25, 32, 33, and 37 stolen bases. With 9 SB’s to start the 2014 season, this looks to be Lee’s most valuable future asset in fantasy leagues. Potential 30 SB threat. Rating: 9 out of 10.
6) Body – The South Korean checks in at 6’2" and 170 pounds. Lee is an older prospect at 23, and he might not gain much more weight. Adding muscle could only benefit the power department. Rating: 8 out of 10.
7) Durability – The prospect tore ligaments in his left knee which ended his 2013 campaign. Lee seems to have put those injury concerns behind him in 2014. He should be fine going forward. Rating: 9 out of 10.
8) Ceiling – There isn’t much hope for power, and the batting average won’t be great. If he can steal 25-30 bases per year, that will be his greatest value. That sounds a lot like Alcides Escobar during some of his worst fantasy years. Rating: 7 out of 10.
9) Floor – There is a realistic chance that Lee never takes over as the long-term solution at shortstop for the Rays, or any organization for that matter. The chances of Lee becoming a utility player are high. Rating: 5 out of 10.
10) Future – The South Korean is one of the least attractive fantasy prospects that is considered by many to be his organization’s top prospect. Lee is currently in Triple-A, so we could see him in the majors soon. Just don’t count on a big fantasy boost here. Rating: 6 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 75 - C
Future Outlook: MLB.com has Hak-Ju Lee as their #1 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Don’t let that ranking fool you, it is based mostly on his defensive tools. The left-handed bat has hit for a respectable average while stealing a decent amount of bases throughout his minor league career. Lee started the 2014 season in Triple-A, and Yunel Escobar isn’t much of a road-block in Tampa either. There is a good chance we see a promotion to Tampa before the end of the season for the shortstop prospect. While there is a chance we could get some useful SB totals out of Lee in the future, there isn’t much of a ceiling here. We are most likely looking at a player that will rank in the 20-to-30 range in terms of fantasy production at the shortstop position.