Lee Waits For Big Chance With Dodgers
LOS ANGELES—When the Dodgers made righthander Zach Lee their first-round pick in the 2010 draft, they thought highly enough of the McKinney (Texas) High product to sign him for a franchise-record $5.25 million bonus. This came at a time when the Frank McCourt ownership era was ending its rocky final stages.
Six years later, Lee, 24, seems to have been passed up and pushed to the side.
The Dodgers used a major league-high 16 starting pitchers in 2015. With a completely different front office from the decision-makers who drafted Lee, he didn’t get the call until 13 others had made a start for the big league club. This spring, Lee was "in the mix” to open the season as the No. 5 starter but was optioned to the minors well before the end of camp.
Righthander Ross Stripling—a fifth-round pick in 2012—opened the season in the big league rotation despite never having thrown a pitch at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Instead, it was Lee who opened his third consecutive season in Triple-A.
"Sometimes you’d like it to be faster,” Lee said. "But in life in general you can’t always speed things up. You have to kind of take your opportunities as they come, and so far I feel that I am in a good spot this year to be able to make an impact.”
Lee performed in 2015, going 11-6, 2.70 in 113 innings at Oklahoma City despite a circulation issue in his right hand that shut him down midseason. He even won the Dodgers’ minor league pitcher of the year award for the second time.
"I don’t think he has one wipeout pitch that might wow you,” said first-year big league manager Dave Roberts after seeing Lee this spring. "But when his command is good and he’s down in the zone and working the cutter, changeup and sinker and changing eye levels with his fastball up, there’s some things he can do. When Zach’s right, he gets major league hitters out.”
When Lee will get a chance to do that is the $5.25 million question.
• The Dodgers signed two former big league relievers and assigned them to Oklahoma City. Sam LeCure, 31, had a 3.51 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in parts of six seasons with the Reds. He was released by the Diamondbacks near the end of spring training. Dale Thayer, 35, had a 3.47 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in parts of seven seasons with the Rays, Mets and Padres.
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• First baseman Cody Bellinger opened the season on the disabled list with Double-A Tulsa with a hip injury.