Zach Lee, a 22-year-old non-roster invitee to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ big league spring training camp is hoping to overcome a minor lat injury that saw him skip his first scheduled bullpen session on Monday. Lee was the Dodgers’ first round pick in 2010 and the talented, multi-sport athlete got himself a $5.25 million bonus that encouraged him to skip out on his commitment to LSU to play football.
The L.A. Dodgers’ website reported that Lee suffered the injury during the club’s strength and conditioning camp two weeks ago but has been able to play catch and shouldn’t miss much action. While he has slipped in prospect rankings in the past couple of years, Lee is still only 22 years old and already has a season and a half of experience in the Double-A Southern League.
Lee, a 6’3″ righty, had a very solid year in Chattanooga last season, throwing 142 2/3 innings with just a 6% walk ratio to go with a 22.5% strikeout ratio. With a solid four-pitch mix and slightly above average velocity, he could very well be a #3 or #4 starter in the future and with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu around, he’ll never be asked to be more for quite some time.
While the Dodgers have a lot of bodies in camp to compete for the #5 starter spot in 2014 (including Paul Maholm, Stephen Fife and Matt Magill) 2014 will be a very important development year for Lee who will probably start the season in Triple-A. If he shows that he has the poise and composure to handle Pacific Coast League opposition (in one of the toughest pitching environments in baseball), Lee could land in L.A. in late 2014 or at the beginning of the 2015 season.
His injury isn’t a major concern but it does set him back a little bit behind the curve if he’s trying to impress the Dodgers’ brass.