Lee, 21, fell to the Twins at eighth overall on Sunday, a bit of a surprise. He placed among the draft’s top six prospects in the estimation of Baseball America, The Athletic, ESPN, FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline. All but ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel slotted Lee as the top college prospect in the class (McDaniel had him second behind Kevin Parada), with unanimous praise for his hit tool projection. Baseball America suggests the switch-hitting infielder could develop into a plus-plus hitter (a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale) at his peak. Other outlets weren’t quite so bullish, but they all project him as an above-average hitter at minimum while raving about his awareness of the strike zone.
That was on full display at Cal Poly, where Lee dominated mid-major pitching. After barely playing in 2020 due to the combination of an early-season injury and the pandemic season cancelation, he spent the following two seasons as the Mustangs everyday shortstop. He posted an OPS north of 1.000 in each year, combining to hit .351/.426/.647 with 64 walks and 63 strikeouts through 538 collegiate plate appearances. The Big West hasn’t been one of the country’s better conferences in recent seasons, but Lee also raked over a 21-game stint in the Cape Cod League last summer and drew strong visual evaluations from scouts for his offensive upside.
Lee isn’t a great runner, and most outlets project he’ll move off shortstop either before or shortly after reaching the majors. He’s a fluid defender with good hands, however, so the general expectation is that he’ll remain on the infield at either second or third base.
The eight overall pick comes with a slot value of $5.4424MM, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. Lee’s bonus comes in a bit above that mark, although it’s a touch lower than the slot value of the preceding pick. Minnesota’s overall bonus pool is just north of $10MM.