PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Hak-Ju Lee addressed the media on Saturday morning, boldly speaking without the use of a translator and the native of Jeonju, Korea, held his own.
The 21-year-old shortstop sensation, acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade last January, revealed his secret for accelerating the learning curve for English: movies.
"Real Steel," said Lee, identifying the 2011 Hugh Jackman movie as one of his favorites.
Lee hit .318 in 97 games at Class A Charlotte last season before finishing the year at Double-A Montgomery where he hit .190 in 24 games.
"It's really exciting [to be in Major League camp]," Lee said. "I just want to work hard ... I need to play more games, and practice, everything."
Lee spent the winter in Korea before taking a 16-hour trip back to the United States this week.
"I was tired," Lee said. "Last night I went to sleep then came here."
MLB.com ranked him the second best Rays prospect behind Matt Moore. When asked about his strengths, Lee answered, "Speed and fast, defense, hitting, everything."
"Hak-Ju's a very gifted shortstop," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "Making the routine play is paramount. He's gifted where sometimes he might nonchalant some throws. He's going to have to learn that making that routine play is not nonchalant. And over the course of time, he's going to do that without any problem."
Lee stands 6-foot-2, 170 pounds and hits left-handed.
"Speed is a big part of his game, offensively and defensively," Lukevics said. "Offensively and defensively his feet move great. He's a 4.03 runner from the left side. The average from the left side is 4.2, so he's a well-above average runner from the left side. That speed part in his repertoire is a big part of his game. We're confident the bat is going to play the more he physically develops.