Dodgers' First-Round Pick Is Handling His Fame





LOS ANGELES—The Dodgers might not admit it, but some in the organization feared that fame and fortune—especially fortune—might spoil their first-round pick from last summer's draft.

Both the Dodgers and high school righthander Zach Lee were entering uncharted territory. The team had never given $5.25 million to a draft choice before. And Lee had never seen money like that.

But the former Louisiana State two-sport recruit did a good job of dispelling those doubts this fall, impressing everyone who saw him with his work ethic and demeanor in instructional league.

"His makeup is off the charts," farm director De Jon Watson said. "Extremely hard worker. He was very detail-oriented when he was working in his bullpens. He competed.

"We're just really excited about the kid and his first showing here with us."

Notice he didn't even mention what Lee did on the mound, but that was impressive as well.

Lee threw eight comfortable innings spread over four appearances. Just two months past his 19th birthday, Lee is growing into his 6-foot-4 frame, going from his listed high school weight of 190 to about 210 pounds. Yet his arm action was simple and fluid during instructional league, and he was able to repeat it consistently.

Then there are the skills Lee brought from his quarterbacking days.

"Whenever they were doing drills or any type of drill series, he was always in the front and took a leadership role," Watson said. "He kind of set the tone for some of the other pitchers in the group.

"This guy's solid. And he's got quality insides."

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

• Having lost outfielder Jamie Hoffman to the major league Rule 5 draft last year—at least temporarily—the Dodgers added him to the 40-man roster in early November. The Nationals took Hoffman with the first pick in last December's draft, then traded him to the Yankees.

Hoffman, who signed as a nondrafted free agent with the Dodgers out New Ulm (Minn.) High in 2003, did not make the the Yankees' major league roster in spring training, so New York returned him to Los Angeles. Hoffman went on to have a solid year at Triple-A Albuquerque, batting .310/.369/.431 with 17 stolen bases.

• Shortstop Jake Lemmerman was named the Pioneer League's player of the year. Lemmerman, 21, a fifth-round pick out of Duke last June, hit .363/.434/.610 with a league-best 69 runs at Rookie-level Ogden.