The Astros announced Wednesday that they’ve signed first-round pick Korey Lee. The now-former Cal catcher will receive a $1.75MM bonus that checks in a bit more than $500K south of his No. 32 overall slot’s $2,257,300 value, per Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). He’s represented by the Boras Corporation, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
The selection of Lee, 20, came as a surprise to some. He wasn’t ranked as a likely first-rounder and drew varying reviews on pre-draft rankings from Fangraphs (No. 45), MLB.com (No. 119) and Baseball America (No. 173). Lee posted a whopping .340/.422/.619 batting line with 14 homers in his junior season, but he’d never hit close to that level in the past. He draws praise for his improved receiving, plus power and arm strength, though he’s considered a below-average runner.
Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen note in their report at Fangraphs that scouts got plenty of looks at Lee when they were on hand to watch his teammate, No. 3 overall pick Andrew Vaughn, and that some clubs picking near the top of the draft were eyeing Lee with their second pick. The Astros clearly were high on Lee themselves and may have feared that he wouldn’t last until their second selection; beyond that, the fact that he’s perhaps viewed as a reach surely helped the team to sign him to an under-slot deal, which will give them extra funds to sign their remaining picks.