As Spring Training unfolded for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Zach Lee was a candidate to be the fifth starter in the rotation after injuries to Brett Anderson and Mike Bolsinger. However, in somewhat of a surprising decision, manager Dave Roberts named Ross Stripling the fifth starter, after a competition between Carlos Frias and Stripling played itself out.
Lee has been thought of as a touted prospect since he was drafted by Los Angeles in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, passing up an opportunity to play quarterback at LSU. He has been ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list three times, but none since 2014.
Clearly Lee’s athleticism and 6’4, 210-pound frame is what captures the eye of scouts, but his lack of one put-away pitch has been questioned. He made his Major League debut last season in a spot start for the Dodgers in July.
The outing was far from a success, as Lee allowed seven runs on 11 hits in just 4.2 innings to the New York Mets. A few balls didn’t bounce in Lee’s favor, though he didn’t necessarily aid his cause.
Lee finished the year strong with Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a 11-6 record with a 2.70 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 113.1 innings pitched. He was recalled earlier this season and stashed in the bullpen as an emergency long reliever.
After Lee was optioned back to Oklahoma City, pitching coach Matt Herges said he believes the right-hander belongs in the Majors, per Jacob Unruh of The Oklahoman:
“He’s developed himself into being a guy. Let’s be honest, he should probably be in the big leagues and he knows that. He’s a Dodger right now and that’s where he wants to be, but in this game there’s 29 other teams. Every time you’re out there pitching you’re pitching for your team first, but you’re also pitching for the scouts in the stands. He should be in the big leagues.”
In six starts with OKC, Lee is 5-1 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. His ERA is inflated due to allowing 10 runs in 3.2 innings in his first start after getting optioned back down. Lee went 10 days between outings for Oklahoma City.
He otherwise has allowed two runs or less in each of his other five starts.