Hak-Ju Lee could be the Cubs’ next Hee-Seop Choi


hak-ju lee

Current Peoria Chiefs shortstop Hak-Ju Lee is rated the sixth best prospects in the Minor League system of the Chicago Cubs. During the “Road to Wrigley” game earlier this month, I asked the infielder about which players he looked up to his as he continued his development in the Cubs system. The Jeonju, South Korea native mentioned former Cub Hee-Seop Choi, and current Cleveland Indians star Shin-Soo Choo. Lee described Choi as a “really good hitter,” and Choo’s current numbers

Choi spent four seasons in the Cubs farm system where he was considered one of the organization’s top prospects. Then On September 3, 2002, Choi made his Major League debut against the Milwaukee Brewers and became the first Korean-born position player to play in the Major Leagues.

By Paul M. Banks


In 2003, Choi played in 80 games, hitting .218 with eight home runs and 28 RBI. He was the Opening Day starter for the Cubs, but suffered a concussion following a collision with teammate pitcher Kerry Wood on June 7, 2003. Choi went on the disabled list, and never reclaimed his starting role. After the season, he was traded to the World Champion Florida Marlins for Derrek Lee. After the Marlins, Choi joined the Dodgers, but he was out of MLB by ’06.

Today, the Chun-Nam, South Korea native plays for the Kia Tigers.

Enough with the Cubs’ past, and back to the future. Lee is currently hitting .284 with 24 stolen bases and an OPS of .714. When asked about when he might be coming to Wrigley for good, with the parent club he said “I don’t know, maybe 2012,” before later how discussing how excited he was to be playing in the Futures game with his friend and former teammate Brett Jackson, who he described as “a really good player.”

Lee was a first half all-star in the Midwest League and was named the #1 prospect in the NWL last year when he led the league in steals and run scored; while also hitting .330 and slugging .420 as Boise’s leadoff hitter. But what scouts love most about him, far and away, is his fielding.

This is how his manager, Casey Kopitzke described his game:

“He’s an exciting young player, definitely does things that few players can do. And I’m fortunate to have him on my club the last two years to watch him grow and develop. He’s on the right path.”

Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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