Cubs Sign 17-year-old Korean Shortstop

The Cubs made another splash in South Korea, signing 17-year-old high school shortstop Hak Ju Lee. Major League Baseball officially approved the contract last week.

Lee, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound lefthanded hitter, runs from home to first in 3.9 seconds with above-average range in the field, above-average agility and an average arm according to Paul Weaver, who scouts the Pacific Rim as a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

“He’s got a chance to be a good all-around player,” Weaver said. “You don’t see guys that are shortstops that are 80 runners (on the 20-80 scouting scale) that can hit from the left side.”

An athletic, agile player, Lee is a “premium prospect,” Weaver said who “has a chance to hit at the top of the order.”

“He’s got a good swing and he’s got good balance,” Weaver said. “I would say right now he’s more of guy who uses the whole field to hit, (who) stays inside the ball good. I wouldn’t say he’s going to be a power guy, but he’s got some power.

Lee’s bonus exceeds the bonus the Cubs gave last July to righthander Dae-Eun Rhee, who signed for $525,000, though it still does not surpass the bonus the Cubs gave to fellow Koreans Hee-Seop Choi ($1.2 million in 1999) and righthander Jae-Kuk Ryu ($1.6 million in 2001).