Phillies’ Hao-Yu Lee Gets Defensive In Pursuit Of MLB Career

Hao-Yu Lee is known for his power. The 19-year-old shortstop has hit .290/.389/.461 across two minor league seasons, culminating with nine games at High-A Jersey Shore in 2022, where he slugged .486.

But this offseason, he decided to work on another aspect of his game that the Phillies believe could use more growth: his defense.

Lee teamed up with Phillies minor league infield coordinator Adam Everett at instructional league last October. Their main focus was Lee’s footwork. He wasn’t taking the best routes to get to the baseball, so Everett encouraged him to cut straight to the ball, so he could get to it quicker.

Everett gave Lee drills to work on while he was at home in Taiwan. Lee said he worked on them every day this offseason, and the repetition has paid off.

“All of my problems with defense start with my footwork,” Lee said through a interpreter. “It feels way better now, because I’ve been working on it every day.”

Lee has continued to work on his defense this spring but has also spent some time shadowing  Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson and watching him drill the big league infielders.

“The most important takeaway that I got from Bobby is that even though you can hit, you need to have defense to be on the roster,” Lee said. “And how you maintain that is how you stay in the big leagues.”

Lee certainly has the personality to get there some day. Phillies farm director Preston Mattingly describes the shortstop as “fiery” and said he would occasionally trash-talk opponents in his native language, Mandarin Chinese.

Lee said that he has picked up some choice words of his own in English, thanks to his teammates in the Phillies’ minor league system.

“The fastest way you learn English is through trash-talking,” he joked.

But Mattingly is confident that Lee’s game will catch up to his big league caliber vocabulary.

“We’ve seen major improvements,” Mattingly said. “He’s a baseball rat. Everything you want in a baseball player.”

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