Korey Lee's Adjustments Pay Dividends
Korey Lee has adapted throughout his entire time with the Astros.
He joined an organization without any legitimate catching depth as somewhat of a surprise first-round pick in 2019 from California. A pandemic prevented him from playing his first full professional season until now.
The time between contained copious changes. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound backstop shortened his arm slot on throws from behind the plate. He now catches on one knee. His batting stance no longer has the long stride and movement it did in college.
“The biggest thing that’s impressed me is his ability to make adjustments so quickly,” Astros assistant general manager Pete Putila said recently on a team radio broadcast.
The changes are paying dividends. The 22-year-old earned a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi in June after dominating High-A Asheville. Lee’s first 50 at-bats at Double-A featured six home runs and a triple. He posted a .950 OPS in his first 41 games across both levels. Lee took 17 walks while striking out just 29 times.
Lee even started twice at third base for Double-A in his first 12 games. During his first outing, Lee leapt to snare a line drive hit well over his head, displaying the athleticism many in the organization rave about. His ability to play a corner infield position creates versatility the Astros crave.
But it’s clear that Lee’s future lies behind the plate. His pop times have registered as low as 1.7 seconds on throws to second base while working on a one-knee catching stance.
“Just to take a little bit of the load off and he’s actually shown the ability to get off some pretty quick pop times from there,” Putila said.
Lee threw out three of the first seven Double-A basestealers.
The Astros’ major league catching duo of Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro is locked up through 2022. Garrett Stubbs remains the third catcher on the 40-man roster. The situation allows Lee time to season in Double-A and, if history is any indication, make more adjustments.
— After making his major league debut against the Rangers in May, righthander Tyler Ivey will not pitch again this season with an elbow injury. Ivey, who suffered a Grade 1 ulnar collateral ligament strain in 2019, dealt with elbow pain throughout this season, but his injury is not believed to require Tommy John surgery.
— Righthander Alex Santos, the Astros’ first pick in the 2020 draft, made his first start in affiliated ball in June for Low-A Fayetteville. Santos sat at 93 mph and bumped 96.