In the Arizona Fall League, 26-year-old righthander Andrew Lee enjoyed the best of both worlds. He pitched in one- or two-inning relief stints, so he could use his best stuff in short bursts. But he also had the advantage of being able to prepare like a starter.
“It was a little different in that most of your week was planned out for you,” Lee said. “You knew if you’d be pitching on Tuesday or on Friday. Even the emergency relief roles were mapped out.”
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Lee had a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings over nine relief appearances for Surprise. He allowed nine hits and two walks while striking out 12.
Lee started and relieved at high Class A and Double-A in 2019. He had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and went over the 100-inning mark for the first time in his career this year.
“I ping-ponged back and forth, but especially with the starters we have in the Nationals organization, I know relief is my best chance,” Lee said.
An 11th-round pick out of Tennessee in 2015, Lee is a good athlete who was a strong lefthanded hitter and a closer for the Volunteers. He throws a 92-95 mph fastball, a curveball, a changeup and an occasional cutter.
“He works quick, attacks hitters with his lively fastball, likes to get ahead in the count and continues to challenge them in the strike zone,” farm director Mark Scialabba said.
In 2019, Lee recorded a 3.14 ERA in 109 innings while striking out 106, walking 50 and allowing seven home runs. At Double-A Harrisburg he made four starts among his 11 appearances and then pitched five no-hit innings in his one Eastern League playoff start.
In Double-A, Lee also had the chance to bat for the first time as a professional. The former two-way standout was 2-for-5 in the EL. He had one hit up the middle and also reached on what was officially a bunt single.
“The bunt was a miscommunication between the pitcher and the third baseman, but if people ask about it, I’ll say it was a line drive off the wall,” Lee said.
— Scialabba was promoted to assistant general manager of player development and will continue to work in conjunction with Doug Harris on all aspects of the farm system. Harris is the club’s assistant GM and vice president of player personnel. Scialabba is expected to assist more on the major league side as well.
— Though the Nationals had 10 available spots on their 40-man roster at the Nov. 20 deadline to shield players form the Rule 5 draft, they added only lefthander Ben Braymer. The 25-year-old was exclusively a starter in 2019, but he also has relief experience. He went 4-4, 2.51 in 79 innings at Harrisburg but 0-6, 7.20 in 60 innings at Triple-A Fresno.