After Proving Success Off the Field, Jake Lucé Returns to the Diamond
American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier features former Wichita Wingnuts and Texas AirHogs outfielder Jake Lucé, who returns to the diamond after two years away, joining the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Lucé returns to the field, despite building a multi-million dollar business.
Jake Lucé Joins the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
When most professional athletes find an endeavor off the field that they prove themselves to be successful in, they often decide that it is at that point that it is time to hang up the cleats or skates and move onto the next chapter of their life.
It is understandable that they would do so. Most players are laser focused on their craft, and have no time for anything beyond the game they love and maybe a family. They decide that if they are already looking for a Plan B, that their ultimate dream of reaching the Majors (Plan A) is probably dead.
Not all, however. Some realize that they can take their ultra-competitive nature and passion for the game and redirect it, using it to help them to become a success off the field while still being able to live out their dream of becoming a Major Leaguer. That is the pathway that outfielder Jake Lucé has chosen to follow, as he returned to the diamond after a nearly two-year absence, which has helped to earn him a spot with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Atlantic League) for the 2020 season.
Where Everyone Knows His Name
Jake Lucé is a name that is familiar to American Association fans. He began his career playing for Amarillo, then moved to the Frontier League before joining the Wichita Wingnuts in 2014. He became a key member of a potent lineup that helped the team win the American Association title that season.
After his contract was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles, Lucé found himself back in independent baseball, playing in the Frontier and Atlantic Leagues before joining the Sioux Falls Canaries . His season was cut short after being hit in the face by a pitch, an injury that sidelined him for nearly two years.
When he returned he joined the California Winter League (CWL), where he hit .356 in 16 games. That earned him a return to the American Association, where he spent a brief period with Texas but, at just 26-years-old, Lucé found himself at a crossroads.
He returned home and trained looking to get another shot, but found that his only opportunity was to stay in the CWL. He hit .333 in 2018, but returned in 2019 to hit just .143. It was beginning to look like it was time to move on.
The Road Not Traveled Enough
If one thought Jake Lucé would quit, they don’t know him very well. However, while not being picked up by a club, this gave him an opportunity to work on building a venture he had started in 2014 – The Lucé Prospect Group.
Jake began this company looking to help young athletes to get noticed by college scouts. They have been quite successful in that endeavor. In seven years, the company has had a “100% success rate for kids that have finished the LPG program to sign scholarships.”
The LPG works with athletes to build a profile of their potential success. Jake and his team then work with the player to improve their skills, as well as help them to build a recruiting profile that helps him or her get noticed by college coaches. The program has been so successful, that they have even expanded beyond baseball in recent years.
In seven years, Jake has turned his company into a multi-million operation, but the success of the athletes is what brings him the most satisfactoin. “It’s great to read the reviews to see what the parents are saying. I have mentored their kids for years and it feels great to be able to help them to reach their goals, whether its to eventually play professional baseball or not. We have had great success in helping players receive scholarships, and now they are able to chase their dreams. I want to continue to grow this business, because those success stories let me know we are making a difference.”
Unfinished Business to Settle
The success of Lucé Prospect Group speaks for itself, and most would be content to devote themselves full-time to their new career. However, Jake Lucé had unfinished business. He still believed he had what it took to continue his professional baseball career, so he returned to the CWL to give it one more shot. That proved to be a wise move.
This past winter, Jake played for the Palm Springs Chill, where he hit .385 in 14 games. That caught the attention of Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Manager Stan Cliburn, who also happened to be Lucé’s manager in the CWL. He signed the 30-year-old, who will now be headed to the Atlantic League looking for another opportunity to return to affiliate ball.
“I think there are a lot of eyes on the Atlantic league right now, not only because of the new technology, but also because of the quality of players that are in that league. Having been there in 2015, I got a little taste of it. The quality of player there is so high that I’m just excited to get in there and see what I can do to help Southern Maryland win and then the rest will take care of itself.”
While seeing this as a golden opportunity to continue his career, he also sees how this can be a source of inspiration for all those young men and women he wants to see reach their goals.
“The possibilities are endless. That’s what is most exciting to me. It’s not the batting average, not the results, not the fact that I’m going to the Atlantic League, of course, that’s super exciting, but it’s how many people that will be positively affected because of what has transpired. For me personally, that is what is most exciting.”
It is an incredible opportunity, but one has to wonder if having a successful business of the field hurts his passion on it. To Jake, nothing could be further from the truth, especially considering that he has talented people who are helping the business grow so he can chase his dream.
“I want to be relentless in what my goal has been from the time that I was four years old. I don’t have the distractions off the field and it’s really allowed me to not only grow the business because there are a lot of people who are supporting the vision of Lucé Prospect Group and they are a huge reason why I even am able to play because I don’t do it alone.”
There is also a great message for athletes out there about not waiting to move onto the next chapter of their lives. The truth is that you can live out two chapters at the same time.
“You can build something for yourself as an athlete and use your platform, even if you’re in the minor leagues. Just because you got drafted by the Yankees doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a big signing bonus, like a majority of players don’t as you know. A lot of guys in the American Association playing for 1000 bucks a month, but what does it prove? It proves that if you keep at it, if you stay with it, you can build a successful company while still playing baseball. I want my success to be something that people can look at and, if it helps one person to help to be successful, I am good with that.
“I’m sitting here at age 30. because I knew that if I continue to work just as hard at baseball as I did with my business, then the two would eventually coincide and be able to inspire a lot of people.”
Jake Lucé is definitely impacting the lives of those around him but, most importantly, he is inspiring himself. He has earned himself a third chance to pursue his goal of becoming a Major Leaguer. If he uses the same passion and intelligence he has to turn his business into such a success, there is little doubt he will be coming to a Major League ballpark near you very soon.
By Robert Pannier