- Full name Nicholas Lee
- Born 01/13/1991 in San Antonio, TX
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Weatherford College
- Drafted in the 18th round (547th overall) by the Washington Nationals in 2011.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Lee began his pro career as a starter, but elbow soreness forced him to the disabled list for three months in 2014, so the Nationals moved him to the bullpen. He profiles better and has excelled in his new role, reaching Double-A Harrisburg in 2015. Lee combined a 90-96 mph fastball with an above-average curveball that has the depth to be a swing-and-miss offering. He mixes in a changeup, giving him a solid weapon against righthanded batters. Lee struggles to repeat his max-effort delivery, which hampers his command. But with another strong performance in 2016, Lee could put himself in position to earn his first big league callup. He joined the 40-man roster in November.
Lee showed electric stuff in 2013, and continued to do so when he was healthy in 2014, but he was limited to 31 innings by an elbow strain, and his poor command got him in trouble. His inability to repeat his delivery inhibits his control, and he has averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings over the course of his pro career. He spent two years as a starter, but he spent most of 2014 in a relief role, which is where he profiles. He is strong and athletic, and his fast arm produces heat that ranges from 90-96 mph. His hammer breaking ball is a true plus pitch with power and depth at its best, and his low-80s slider has a chance to be solid-average. Lee has the ingredients to become a useful lefthanded reliever, but he has plenty of work to do. He figures to get another crack at Potomac in 2015, and if he takes to the bullpen role and stays healthy he could force his way to Double-A Harrisburg by the end of the year.
The Nationals drafted Lee in the 38th round after his freshman year in 2010, then signed him as an 18th-rounder a year later. Lee struck out more than a batter per inning in 2013 at low Class A Hagerstown, where he made progress learning to repeat his delivery and command the strike zone. Smallish but strong and athletic, he has a quick arm and a competitive demeanor. He attacks hitters with an 88-92 mph fastball that bumps 95, and his 77-80 mph downer curveball is a wipeout pitch with good depth when it's on. He was more of a fastball/changeup pitcher in junior college, but the development of his curveball gives Lee a potential future as a lefthanded reliever. His low-80s changeup has decent sink and projects as an average third pitch. He also throws a below-average 82-84 mph slider. Lee's lack of fine command, his high-effort delivery and his size suggest his future is in the bullpen, but the Nats will keep him in a starting role in high Class A in 2014.