Lee Showing Off Baseball Smarts





LOS ANGELES The Dodgers drafted righthander Zach Lee last June because of his impressive physical tools, which include a hard fastball and a 6-foot-4, 190-pound build that gives him room to grow.

What stood out the most through Lee's first six starts with low Class A Great Lakes during his pro debut, however, was how the 19-year-old adapted to the mental side of the game.

"From the shoulders up, very, very good," Great Lakes manager John Shoemaker said. "He's a smart individual. He knows what he wants. It's all new but so far he's adapted very well and I would really be surprised if he wasn't able to adapt to a lot of situations as his career progresses."

Lee was 3-0, 1.17 with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 31 innings. He had also allowed 28 hits, and Lee said he learned that he needs to keep the ball down in the strike zone.

"I knew the game was going to pick up a little bit. I wasn't going to be able to make the big mistakes that I had in high school," he said. "I'm just trying to limit mistakes as much as possible and success will come from that."

Lee makes a lot of references to high school because that's where he was at this time last year. He'd still be in school, too, playing quarterback for Louisiana State, if the Dodgers hadn't given him a club-record $5.25 million signing bonus after selecting him 28th overall last June out of McKinney (Texas) High.

Shoemaker is optimistic the Dodgers will get their money's worth out of Lee.

"He's very, very confident. He has a professional look when he goes to the mound. He's out there for business," Shoemaker said. "He's been able to pitch out of some jams, which is a good sign for a pitcher. Some pitchers get in jams and they can't get out of them.

"We're hoping he'll move quickly through the Dodger system. But there's a long way to go."

L.A. CONFIDENTAL

• Outfielder Scott Van Slyke, whose career appeared stalled after a pair of short trials in Triple-A, was blistering the ball at Double-A Chattanooga. The 24-year-old was hitting .376/.450/.718 in 85 at-bats.

• Righthander Steven Ames impressed at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga with 24 strikeouts, eight saves and a 1.35 ERA in 13 innings. The 2009 17th-round pick went 0-2, 2.30 with 16 saves and 48 strikeouts in 31 innings last season between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Great Lakes.