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2023 Prospect Previews: Brooks Lee


Twins Daily Contributor

A candidate to go #1 overall, Brooks Lee fell to the Twins and the #8 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. What can we expect from Lee heading into the 2023 season? What's his ceiling? Where might he start the year?

Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

In advance of the 2022 draft, a clear top six industry prospects emerged in the pre-draft process. The Twins appeared to be on the outside looking in, selecting at number eight overall in the first round. The only predictable thing about the MLB Draft, however, is its lack of predictability. The Rangers shook up the draft taking Kumar Rocker at number three. The Twins ended up in the enviable position of being able to pick between Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, and Cam Collier and opted for Lee, the prospect with the safest floor of the three, and a contender to go number one overall.

Scouting and Signing
Hitting: 70 Power: 50 Run: 40 Fielding: 50 Arm: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America)

Lee signed a $5.675 million bonus with the Twins, second behind Jacob Berry for all college players. Lee had a track record as a prospect, ranking as a consensus top 50 pick as early as 2019. After an injury plagued 2020 season, Lee hit well in 2021, and took off in 2022. In 58 games at Cal Poly he put up a .357 average with 15 home runs, 46 walks, and just 28 strikeouts. 

Lee had the best hit tool in the 2022 draft class. He’s a true switch hitter, although more effective from the left side of the plate. Projecting forwards, Lee should be a .300 hitter at the major league level, with the ability to continue to develop power (15-20 home run range). While he has good hands and a strong arm, the critique of his play at shortstop in college was a lack of lateral agility. It’s likely that he moved to third base long term (particularly with Carlos Correa locked in at shortstop for the foreseeable future).

Early Returns
The Twins weren’t shy about throwing Lee into the mix at a variety of levels of pro ball when he made his debut in late 2022. After starting at the Complex League, Lee played 25 games at High-A Cedar Rapids. In 114 plate appearances he managed a 140 wRC+, walking 14% of the time and striking out just 15.8%. Lee was promoted to Double-A for their playoff run last fall and has already lived up to his billing as a fast mover.

Likely to Start At: Wichita Wind Surge (AA)
Lee dominated most of the pitching he saw in 2022. It’s likely he starts 2023 at AA Wichita. Expectations from Twins fans have understandably been high for such a promising prospect. In a very small samples size, Lee has delivered. If he can stay healthy, the smart money would be on a major league debut in 2023, a blistering pace that could have Lee with the Twins before he’s completed a full calendar year in the minors. If the Twins hold onto Lee and he stays healthy, he should be a starting infielder who hits .300 with average to above average power for the big league team for the next decade.

What are your hopes for Brooks Lee in 2023? Where do you think his defensive home will be? What do you think his ceiling is? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

 


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I'm hoping we see a bit more power this year but I'm very excited about Lee.

I like that the promotion path they took also got him into two minor league playoff runs (where he went 12 for 30 with 3 2B and only 2 Ks, btw).

I was looking at the other top 10 picks from last year's draft the other day, and I don't think anyone is worried yet based on performance, but the Twins have to be thrilled with how well he's hit at every level, all the way up to AA.

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Between Lee, Lewis and Martin, and throw in Julien, the Twins have some hard decisions. Lee could give us the average and plate discipline of Arraez, plus the ability to actually play somewhere other than first base, and maybe even steal a base or hit homers.

The question is finding a home for the player, and others of slightly more age, but still skills for the long-term future of the Twins. A logjam may be happening.

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If Brooks Lee plays the field with average skills his bat could push him to Target Field this summer. That is super optimistic for sure, but he does profile as a rock steady player. I believe he was passed over by some teams in the draft because the guys ahead of him are super athletic with the potential to become superstars. Keoni Cavaco is such a player, which is why he was drafted by the Twins. Luckily, Lee fell to the Twins and he looks like a player that can start for the Twins for a dozen years and be very productive with his bat while playing a very good third base.

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I was one of those poster who couldn't see Lee making it to number 8.  I had him gone at pick #4 for sure. I also thought Miami who picked right in front of us would take him.  I liked the tooled up outfielders in that draft the best but Lee was next in line for me. A 70 hit tool and switch hitter good from both sides.  Basically a unicorn bat.  Could not believe the Twins got him.  

Watching him a few games this year he looked fine at short.  He didn't look elite but he certainly looked solid there.  He made some great plays and misplayed some too.  His range did seem to be a bit limited but he can make the throws.

It was a great pick by the Twins and I hope to see him with the big league club soon.

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10 minutes ago, Dman said:

I was one of those poster who couldn't see Lee making it too number 8.  I had him gone at pick #4 for sure. I also thought Miami who picked right in front of us would take him.  I liked the tooled up outfielders in that draft the best but Lee was next in line for me. A 70 hit tool and switch hitter good from both sides.  Basically a unicorn bat.  Could not believe the Twins got him.  

Watching him a few games this year he looked fine at short.  He didn't look elite but he certainly looked solid there.  He made some great plays and misplayed some too.  His range did seem to be a bit limited but he can make the throws.

It was a great pick by the Twins and I hope to see him with the big league club soon.

I remember going back and forth with you about how none of those guys would make it to the Twins lol. Agree with your assessment too. I think people tend to undervalue great hit tool players. I think he'll be good defensively at 2B or 3B (average at worst). Agree with you, a great pick!

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I couldn't be happier with Brooks Lee. Better than advertised at SS so far and with an exceptional hit tool, and clearly not intimidated by the move to pro ball. I think we got lucky with him falling to us, but props to the team that made sure he was the guy we took.

I think AA is absolutely the right spot for him to start, since he really only had a cup of coffee there last season, and he should keep playing SS unless he plays himself off of the position. It'll be very interesting to see how he does at the plate this year; teams will be really scouting him now and he'll be seeing more advanced pitchers consistently...but i think he can handle it. I'm guessing that he gets a promotion to AAA before the end of the season. 

Not betting on him debuting in 2023, though; I'm actually betting on the twins being healthy enough this year at the MLB level that they don't reach down for him, and that Martin and Julien get the first looks for infield help if needed with Royce still on the mend. I think there's a great chance he's on the team in 2024, because i think his bat is special.

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If he shows he's ready this year  for the  show , play him in the show  ...

The majors are for the top professionals and the best players should be playing in a twins uniform,  twins have some good talented hitters knocking on the door that just might be better replacing a player in the lineup ....

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3 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Which of these prospects/players would you give the Mets for catcher, Kevin Parada: 1) Brooks Lee; 2) Luis Arraez; 3) Max Kepler; 4) Jorge Polanco; or 5) Trevor Larnach? Personally I would trade any one of these 5 for Parada. What do you think? 

Personally I think we are OK at catcher with the signing of Vasquez , but I would trade kepler of course with larnach  and Martin  or Julien ...

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1 minute ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Which of these prospects/players would you give the Mets for catcher, Kevin Parada: 1) Brooks Lee; 2) Luis Arraez; 3) Max Kepler; 4) Jorge Polanco; or 5) Trevor Larnach? Personally I would trade any one of these 5 for Parada. What do you think? 

No on Lee, even though it's close (which makes sense considering they went 3 picks apart last year). I'd trade Kepler for him (don't think the Mets would take that 1 for 1, though). The other guys are interesting. Parada is in low A. That's a long ways away. I'd absolutely love a catcher like him in our system, but I don't know that I'd want to give up any of the other current MLBers for him. Just doesn't feel like a time to be building for the future at the expense of the present. 3 years of Vasquez and Jeffers should be solid and gives them a chance to add high end catching without trading guys now. Who says there isn't someone just as good as Parada available at pick 5 this summer? Interesting idea, though.

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7 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Which of these prospects/players would you give the Mets for catcher, Kevin Parada: 1) Brooks Lee; 2) Luis Arraez; 3) Max Kepler; 4) Jorge Polanco; or 5) Trevor Larnach? Personally I would trade any one of these 5 for Parada. What do you think? 

Complicated question. Parada is a very good looking prospect...but he hasn't played above low A yet. I think it would be difficult to trade Lee (who is as highly regarded and more advanced as a prospect), and much harder to deal Arraez (the reigning batting champion) or Polanco (a former all-star still in his prime) considering dealing either of the latter blows a hole in the lineup that would need to be filled with unproven talent. The Twins are lined up to compete this season with the rotation as it is and having brought back Correa. Kepler is easier to move considering the depth with have in LH corner OF, and the same goes with Larnach. but doubt kepler gets a deal done, and while Larnach has more upside and team-controllable years I doubt he gets it done for a global Top 50 prospect either?

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25 minutes ago, jmlease1 said:

I couldn't be happier with Brooks Lee. Better than advertised at SS so far and with an exceptional hit tool, and clearly not intimidated by the move to pro ball. I think we got lucky with him falling to us, but props to the team that made sure he was the guy we took.

I think AA is absolutely the right spot for him to start, since he really only had a cup of coffee there last season, and he should keep playing SS unless he plays himself off of the position. It'll be very interesting to see how he does at the plate this year; teams will be really scouting him now and he'll be seeing more advanced pitchers consistently...but i think he can handle it. I'm guessing that he gets a promotion to AAA before the end of the season. 

Not betting on him debuting in 2023, though; I'm actually betting on the twins being healthy enough this year at the MLB level that they don't reach down for him, and that Martin and Julien get the first looks for infield help if needed with Royce still on the mend. I think there's a great chance he's on the team in 2024, because i think his bat is special.

This is pretty much where I'm at, too. Love the Lee pick, and expect great things out of him. Keep him at SS until he's sharing a field with someone better than him there (Lewis in AAA in July?). AA makes complete sense for a starting spot this year. I'm not a "step by step" guy with prospects so am not too concerned about him seeing AAA at all, but since there's a number of other young IF types ahead of him currently I don't know that I think he debuts this year. If he does it's either really good or really bad. Really good if he's simply mashing and is making it abundantly clear he's one of the best 13 hitters in the org. Really bad if everyone ahead of him is hurt or flopped so bad they had to go to him.

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25 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Which of these prospects/players would you give the Mets for catcher, Kevin Parada: 1) Brooks Lee; 2) Luis Arraez; 3) Max Kepler; 4) Jorge Polanco; or 5) Trevor Larnach? Personally I would trade any one of these 5 for Parada. What do you think? 

If the question is who would I rather trade for Parada, it's Kepler, no contest.

If the question is what would it take to get him, I'm not convinced just one of those five does it.

Not claiming to be super familiar with the Mets system. Do any of the 5 make them a better team this year?

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It would be a good idea to have Lee play 2nd, SS, and 3rd this year so he is ready to challenge for a spot when ready.  Julien should play some 3rd and 2nd, Martin LF, CF and some middle infield, and Lewis SS, 3rd, LF and CF.  Building this depth would help improve the roster and make for more competition so they could trade for some pitching.  THoughts?

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1 hour ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Which of these prospects/players would you give the Mets for catcher, Kevin Parada: 1) Brooks Lee; 2) Luis Arraez; 3) Max Kepler; 4) Jorge Polanco; or 5) Trevor Larnach? Personally I would trade any one of these 5 for Parada. What do you think? 

I would give up Kepler that is about it.  Love Parada's bat but he was rated as having a 45 arm.  Not ideal for catcher.  Honestly I don't see him sticking at catcher but that is just my opinion.  Lee is also already two levels ahead of him and both players were picked primarily for their bats.  I still think Lee was the better choice especially since he is a switch hitter and can likely play multiple positions.  If I thought Parada would stick at catcher I might feel differently but if he end up at 1st base or DH I will be really glad the Twins picked Lee.

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I think that starting the year in AA makes sense for Lee, and if he starts out hot then move him up to St Paul. The ceiling for this kid is very high, and barring any unforseen problems I could see him up in Majors by 2024. He is a legit bigtime prospect and as far as Parada goes I in no way trade Lee for him, we have catching, and I am not sold on Parada making it to the Majors as quickly as Lee. The Twins are finally loaded with quality infield prospects that could give them a very good infield in 2 or 3 years.

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Not very high on Parada. I doubt any move would take place where he is traded by the Mets for Kepler, which would be all the Twins would offer. Maybe the Twins don't even do that trade because Kepler is useful now whereas Parada is not.

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4 hours ago, Reptevia said:

If he comes up to stay this year, it would make him the fastest prospect In Twins history. Maybe a September call up is more realistic. 

It would be fast. Eddie Bane was the fastest. He debuted in the majors right after being drafted 11th overall from Arizona State. 

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6 hours ago, Hannytwinsguy said:

It would be a good idea to have Lee play 2nd, SS, and 3rd this year so he is ready to challenge for a spot when ready.  Julien should play some 3rd and 2nd, Martin LF, CF and some middle infield, and Lewis SS, 3rd, LF and CF.  Building this depth would help improve the roster and make for more competition so they could trade for some pitching.  THoughts?

This all makes a lot of sense. With an abundance of future infield depth, is now a good time to ad one of them along with Kepler for a number one or two pitcher?

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2 hours ago, jorgenswest said:

It would be fast. Eddie Bane was the fastest. He debuted in the majors right after being drafted 11th overall from Arizona State. 

I went to that July 4th 1974 Eddie Bane debut game. Crazy atmosphere. SRO at the old Met.  Those were the days……

I’ve got the over on Lee having a better Twins career than Eddie.  But give Eddie credit - he still built a solid career in baseball. 

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Lee and Julien’s time in the majors this year (assuming they both continue to perform in the minors) will depend on if we are contending and the health of Lewis.  If we are contending, chances are Polanco and Farmer make it through the deadline. If healthy, Lewis gets the first chance at significant ABs.

Regardless, the Twins infield starting in ‘24 looks to be cheap (besides Correa, of course) and deep both at the plate and in the field.  We should have these six players on the roster and with the DH, it’s possible that five of these six players are starting every game: Correa, Arraez, Miranda, Lewis, Lee and Julien.  

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59 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

I went to that July 4th 1974 Eddie Bane debut game. Crazy atmosphere. SRO at the old Met.  Those were the days……

I’ve got the over on Lee having a better Twins career than Eddie.  But give Eddie credit - he still built a solid career in baseball. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN197307040.shtml

Attendance 45,890! Bane pitched well. I wasn’t there but I was listening to Herb Carneal and Ray Christensen (I think Halsey Hall retired year previous). 

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