Lee's contract was selected by the Royals on Friday. In a system flush with pitching prospects, Lee is one of the better hitting prospects with any upper-level experience, so he was always going to get protected from the Rule 5 draft. He has the power and speed to be a fantasy asset some day, but he needs to increase his launch angle and improve his approach.
Lee will be a part of the Royals' 60-man player pool this season, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports. Lee had a realistic chance of getting a late-season promotion to the majors in 2020 under normal circumstances, and he could still end up making his big-league debut this year. However, he is unlikely to take on an overly prominent role until at least 2021. Lee has very impressive tools, but he logged a groundball rate over 59 percent last year at Double-A, so a swing change would serve him well.
The Royals believe Lee has more raw power than he has shown in games thus far, Alec Lewis of The Athletic reports. "He stayed with the plan (in spring training). He took some really good swings," assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "And I think that, as we've talked about before, there's more power in there that will show up in games." Picollo didn't spell it out, but the team would obviously like to see Lee cut down on the 59.3 percent groundball rate he registered last year at Double-A. Despite a .182 average with one home run and a 12:2 K:BB in 35 plate appearances, Lee apparently had some great batting practice sessions, hitting line drives to all fields while impressing the field staff with his maturity. He will likely open the year at Triple-A, but the shortened season could delay his big-league debut until 2021.
Lee is healthy to start spring training after breaking his hand in winter ball, Alec Lewis of The Athletic reports. Lee will get some time this spring to showcase his skills at big-league camp, though he's unlikely to be considered for a spot on the Opening Day roster as he's yet to reach Triple-A. He hit a solid .264/.363/.372 in 129 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season while stealing 53 bases, though that came with a 28.2 percent strikeout rate, too high for a player without much power.
Lee (hand) was invited to the Royals' major-league spring training Monday, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Lee suffered a broken right hand playing winter ball, which could limit him initially during spring training, but he'll get the chance to develop with the major-league coaching staff during camp. The 21-year-old was second in the minors last season with 53 stolen bases, but he'll need to work on lifting the ball more to become more effective. Lee probably won't open the season on the major-league roster, but he could make his debut sometime in 2020 if he can further develop.
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