Drafted No. 28 overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, Zach Lee has yet to reach the potential many believe the right-hander has. To protect against losing Lee, the Dodgers added the right-hander to the 40-man roster just over one week ago.
Heading into the 2014 season, Lee was ranked the No. 63 prospect by MLB.com, No. 84 by BaseballProspectus.com, and No. 95 by Baseball America. By the end of the 2014 season, MiLB.com ranked Lee as the Dodgers’ No. 6 prospect.
In his first experience at the Triple-A level last season, Lee struggled to a 7-13 record, 5.38 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Nonetheless, he faces an opportunity next season with the Dodgers. According to Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider, Lee worked with University of Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson to alter and improve his delivery:
It’s not a drastic change, but it’s trying to give me a little more time on the rubber and not necessarily get out so early, which has helped with command and my arm action as well,” Lee said. “With my lift leg, once I get to the top point of my lift, instead of going out toward home plate right away, I’m kind of going downward and then out.”
Lee also spoke of the boost of confidence that came with the Dodgers placing him on their 40-man roster:
It really is reassuring and gives you some confidence that they have confidence in you and they want to protect you,” Lee said. “Obviously going into Spring Training this coming year, it gives you more of a feeling that you have a legitimate chance of making the roster rather than being a non-roster guy and come out of nowhere. It puts you more on their radar and gives you a little bit more confidence going into Spring Training than last year.”
The 23 year old has yet to make his debut with the Dodgers, but he’s been part of Spring Training over the last three seasons. Lee saw his most extensive work in 2014 as he appeared in three games, including making two starts with one coming in the exhibition Freeway Series.
With the Dodgers in need of a fifth starter in the rotation, there certainly is a window of opportunity for Lee to step in and fill the void. However, he’ll need to turn a corner that he’s yet been able to in four seasons.