Brooks Lee grew up admiring his father, Larry, who played professional baseball and is the head coach at Cal Poly. His relationship with his father is what caused him to want to play at Cal Poly.
Lee committed to the Mustangs in the fall of his sophomore year at San Luis Obispo (Calif.) High in 2016. When he committed to Cal Poly, he didn’t expect to draw significant recruiting interest, he said. But after a breakout junior season, Lee enhanced his value to position himself as a top recruit and MLB draft prospect.
Lee turned down interest from high-major programs and didn’t turn pro out of high school, despite some scouts projecting him as a potential top-two-round pick. The decision to play for his father and attend Cal Poly has paid off for Lee, who’s one of the top players in college baseball three years later.
“I really wanted to play for my dad just because I’d be nothing without him,” Lee said. “He’s the reason I have gotten so far. I work extremely hard, but things like teaching me how to deal with failure and go about having success are things he has helped me with along the way.”
Lee’s work ethic and natural intangibles on the baseball field have propelled him up draft rankings. Scouts project Lee, a shortstop, as the possible first overall pick in the 2022 draft.
Lee will likely be Cal Poly’s highest-ever draft pick and the program’s first first-round pick since Mitch Haniger in 2012.
“I am glad I went through it already,” Lee said. “It is something that motivates me and stays in the back of my head. I think I handle it well and don’t feel pressure from it. I just look at the rankings, and then, whatever happens, I’m fine with it. I’m not worried about the draft at all.”
Lee is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound switch-hitting shortstop who is a well-rounded player. His best traits are on the offensive side, as he is an aggressive hitter who loves to swing at the first pitch. He has respectable power, possesses an above-average hit tool and drives the ball to all fields.
Lee prefers to hit left-handed, as he has more experience against right-handed pitchers, he said. Besides his on-the-field tools, scouts rave about his instincts, makeup and leadership traits.
“My baseball I.Q. is my biggest strength,” Lee said. “I feel like I am the coach on the field when we are playing. I just think that’s what separates me. There are a lot of other players that are more talented than me, but I think I put myself in the best spot at the right time.”
Defensively, Lee plays shortstop at Cal Poly. He is athletic and possesses plenty of arm strength, but some scouts believe Lee is better suited for third base. Scouts question his range and foot speed, but Lee feels he can stick at shortstop long-term due to his baseball I.Q.
“We will see at the end of my career what happens,” said Lee on the scouts who doubt his ability to play shortstop. “Yeah, I think about it every single day. Every time I take ground balls, I think about how I can stay at short. People who watch me play long enough, I think, believe that too. You can put me anywhere in the field, and I’ll be comfortable because I’ve played all around the field. But I want to stick at shortstop.”
Over his first two years in college, Lee has developed into an impact player for Cal Poly.
Lee played in two games his freshman season in 2020. After suffering a hamstring injury that required surgery, Brooks made two pinch-hit appearances in March 2020. Lee expected to return in April, but the college season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic before he could return to the field.
Last season, Lee made up for the lost time, as he was one of the top players in college baseball. He hit .342 with 27 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 57 RBIs in 250 plate appearances in 55 games. He showed respectable plate discipline, tallying 34 strikeouts compared to 18 walks.
Lee’s success carried into the summer in the Cape Cod League and with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. In the Cape Cod League, he hit .405 with four doubles, six home runs and 13 RBIs in 88 plate appearances in 21 games.
The Collegiate National Team played an 11-game scrimmage schedule, including three games against U.S.’s Olympic team. Lee shined with Team USA and even hit a home run off Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitching prospect Simeon Woods-Richardson, who played on the Olympic team.
Lee has thoroughly enjoyed his experience in college, especially the opportunity to play for his father, he said.
“The dynamic we have is unlike anything else,” Lee said. “People assume it would be hard to play for your dad, but I don’t believe that. I get treated harder than anyone on the team, which I am fine with because that’s what you need for development. From a teammate standpoint, there is nothing wrong with it, which I was worried about coming in. Everyone has respect for my dad and me. I work too hard for anything to get in the way.”
This spring will likely be Lee’s last college baseball season. While he hopes to show growth on the field, his main focus is on the Mustangs’ success. Lee wants to lead the Mustangs to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2014.
“I would rather hit .200 and win a College World Series than hit .400,” Lee said. “I’d like to raise my average up a little bit and raise my walks. I was a finalist for the Gold Glove this year, so I would like to win it. I am a team guy, and I want to have team success more than want individual success.”
Read all of Brooks Lee’s comments on playing at Cal Poly, his skills and what motivates him to play the game, HERE.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.