Cubs calling up prospect Junior Lake from Triple-A

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With rumors swirling about the Cubs trading various veterans they’ve decided to call up 23-year-old Junior Lake from Triple-A, where he was hitting .295 with four homers and an .803 OPS in 40 games.

After playing shortstop for most of his career Lake shifted to third base this season and has also seen action in the outfield, with general manager Jed Hoyer telling Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com that the Cubs want to increase his defensive versatility.

Lake has never been considered a top prospect, in large part because of his poor plate discipline and strike zone control, but he’s also been young for every level of competition, offers very good speed, and has shown some upside offensively overall.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.