Jake Lee Shows Exciting Growth
Jake Lee flew under the radar in the 2018 draft, when the 6-foot-4 righthander was a ninth-round pick out of Oakland University, which is not exactly a college baseball powerhouse.
But Lee has emerged prominently on the radar of the Angels' player development staff this season with excellent command of a quality four-pitch mix that earned the 24-year-old an April promotion from low Class A Burlington to high Class A Inland Empire.
"He might be a sleeper,” minor league pitching coordinator Matt Wise said. "He didn’t have a walk in Burlington, so we were like, ‘All right, I guess it’s time we move him up.’ ”
Lee recorded a 2.66 ERA in 17 games for Rookie-level Orem in 2018, striking out 30 and walking four in 23.2 innings.
Lee recorded a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings in the Midwest League this season before jumping to the California League, where he went 1-2, 4.50 and struck out 32, walked 11 and allowed 19 hits in 22 innings.
Lee averages 93 mph and touches 95 with a four-seam fastball and has what Wise said is a "legitimate quality” overhand curveball. He has a good low-80s changeup that he throws to both righthanded and lefthanded hitters and an improving slider.
"People get it in their head that a righthander can’t throw a changeup to righthanded hitters, but we’re trying to get him to throw it to righties and lefties,” Wise said. "You never know when command and stuff are going to put a guy on a different track, but he’s someone I’m personally excited about.”
Lee struck out 235 in 220.2 innings over three seasons at Oakland. The Angels were targeting him for 120-130 innings this season before Lee suffered what Wise called a "minor setback” in late May.
Lee, who threw 56.2 innings in his first eight games, was expected to be activated off the injured list by the end of June.
— Top prospect Jo Adell had shown no ill effects from the hamstring and ankle injuries that sidelined him for April and much of May. He hit .352/.422/.626 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his first 24 games for Inland Empire and Double-A Mobile.
— Hector Yan, a 20-year-old lefthander from the Dominican Republic, did not allow a hit in consecutive starts for low Class A Burlington, striking out five in five innings against Peoria on June 15 and striking out seven in 6.1 innings against Kane County on June 20.