The Los Angeles Dodgers had an injury-plagued season in 2015, particulary in their starting rotation as both Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu were lost early in the year due to respective arm injuries that requires surgery.
As a result, the Dodgers turned to several Minor League starters as they looked to fill the holes left in their starting rotation.
Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias were ultimately received the majority of the opportunities prior to Los Angeles acquiring Mat Latos and Alex Wood.
However, Zach Lee, the Dodgers first-round pick in 2010, made his long-awaited Major League debut in July.
He struggled against the New York Mets and ran into some bad luck, allowing seven runs on 11 hits over 4.2 innings. Lee, however, enjoyed a bounce-back season with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
According to Josh Jackson of MiLB.com, Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler noticed improvement in Lee’s cutter, which dated back to Spring Training:
“First and foremost, the cutter came along beautifully,” Kapler said. “That started in Spring Training. He used it against righties and lefties. I stood behind home plate quite a bit and watched the movement of that pitch. I watched it start at the hip on right-handed batters and land on the plate or start on the plate and dart off while the batter chases it.”
Lee was 7-13 with a 5.39 ERA and 54 walks over 150.1 innings last season in Albuquerque, the Dodgers then-top Minor League affiliate. Kapler credited the right-hander for having better command with the OKC Dodgers last season:
“His command in OKC was fantastic. He demonstrated an ability to throw the ball where he wants. He works fast and deliberately, like a man on a mission.”
Lee was temporarily shut down due to experience tingling in the fingers on his right hand. Roughly two weeks after the issue surfaced, Lee was diagnosed with poor circulation in the middle finger of his right hand.
He nonetheless began a throwing program and made rehab starts with the Arizona League Dodgers and High-A Rancho Cucamonga before rejoining OKC.
Lee finished 11-6 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and only five home runs allowed in 113.1 innings over 19 Triple-A starts.