Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Hak-Ju Lee reports to first big league camp
Posted Feb 25, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Feb 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM
PORT CHARLOTTE Hak-Ju Lee spent 16 hours traveling from South Korea to Port Charlotte on Thursday and spent most of Friday catching up on his sleep.
On Saturday, the highly-touted shortstop prospect reported to Rays camp, anxious to continue his climb to the major leagues.
“Really exciting,” he said of being at his first big league camp. “I’m ready, always ready. So, just play hard, work hard, that’s it.”
Lee, a key piece in the trade January 2011 trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs, had a .539 OPS in 2011 while playing at Class A Charlotte and Double A Montgomery. He batted .318 with 16 doubles, 11 triples and 28 stolen bases in 97 games for the Stone Crabs, but struggled with a .190 average in 100 at-bats for the Biscuits.
When asked what parts of his game he needs to improve to reach the big leagues, Lee said, “I’m ready now.”
He laughed and added, “I need more games and practice, everything.”
Lee was the 2011 Stone Crabs MVP and was named to Florida State League’s mid-season and postseason all-star teams. In July, Lee made his second straight start at shortstop in the All-Star Futures Game.
ESPN.com’s Keith Law lists Lee as the 12th highest prospect in baseball.
Baseball America, which has Lee ranked as the 44th best prospect in baseball, also tabbed Lee as the most exciting player, best batting prospect, fastest base runner and best defensive shortstop in the FSL. The publication also ranks Lee as the fastest base runner and best defensive infielder in the Rays minor league chain.