Scouting Prospect #20: Hak-Ju Lee

We recently released our annual top 100 prospects list here at Scout.com, and to follow that up we will be providing team quality first-hand scouting reports on select prospects from that list over the course of the off-season. Here's a scouting report on prospect #20 from that list, Hak-Ju Lee.

Name: Hak-Ju Lee
Position: Shortstop
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 170
Bats/Throws: L/R

Events Scouted: MiLB Season


Physical Description

While Lee has gotten physically stronger since turning pro, he's still quite thin and wiry. He's a plus athlete with fast twitch actions. There may be a little more room to grow, but for the most part he'll maintain the frame he has right now.

Hitting

There have always been mild concerns about Lee's bat, but he seems to be able to make them slowly disappear with each passing game. Lee has learned to use the whole field much better over the past year and we're seeing him hit with much more authority to his pull side. The key for him will be to use his speed and keep the ball on the ground. His contact rate has room for improvement, but for a 21-year-old player he recognizes the breaking ball well and has a disciplined pitch selection.

Power

Lee is not a power hitter and never will be. However, his ability to lift and drive the ball improved tremendously in 2011. He profiles to hit 10-12 home runs annually in the big leagues, mainly because that's how his approach is designed. He has some natural strength and the ability to hit the ball out, but his game should be on the ground.

Speed

The lefty swinging Lee is a true plus-plus runner and that speed is already highly functional in his game. He puts pressure on the infield with each ball on the ground and already shows a decent feel for the art of stealing a bag. When he masters that, he's a threat to steal 40 bases a year in the big leagues.

Fielding

When it comes to defense, Lee has few equals in professional baseball. He's still prone to the youthful mistake now and then, but his physical skills and actions at shortstop jump off the page. Lee has plus range to his right and to his left, and has the arm strength to complete his spectacular plays. If he can grow out of his careless mistakes, he's a gold glove caliber shortstop in the making.

Summation

Hak-Ju Lee may not fit into the mold of the "new age" shortstop. In fact, he fits much better into what the franchise shortstop use to be. He's going to be a spectacular defensive asset, he'll steal bases and hit for a average. Power won't be a big part of his game, but he's dynamic in just about every other way.

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