A Live Look At Zach Lee

After watching him briefly in spring training, I got an extended look at Zach Lee, the Dodgers' #1 prospect, in his latest start for Rancho Cucamonga.

Physical Description

Lee has an ideal pitcher's frame, with long arms and a strong lower half. He's likely his listed height of 6'4, at least 6'3 and probably weights about 210 lbs. He's got big feet and big hands. At age 20, you could project him filling out a little over the next few years.


Zach has a very clean arm. He consistently gets the ball into the drive line on time with good tempo and pronates his forearm properly after release. He takes a good stride and gets appropriate hip/shoulder separation.

One minor detail I noticed about Lee in this start is the fact that he tends to throw slightly across his body. It's not a huge red flag for me, but could be something to watch. Having experienced some elbow soreness last spring, the Dodgers will have to monitor his health closely and protect his arm.


I don't know if it was the cold night breeze or just because it's early in the season, but Lee's fastball was down in the high 80s for much of his outing. He may have been throwing a 2 seamer, since the pitch looked like it had decent movement, but only on a few occasions did he reach back and dial it up to 92-93. Still, his command of the pitch was good and he got groundouts. The only blemish was when he tried to go inside on the first pitch of the second inning, left it over the plate and saw it deposited well beyond the trees in left field.

As he confirmed to me in our interview this spring, Lee has two separate breaking balls: a curve and a slider. While I saw one big league out pitch from him last year, tonight I saw two.

The slider comes in at around 81-82mph with solid, late break. I can get a little slurvy and doesn't have ideal velocity, but hitters were consistently making bad contact against it. He used it primarily against righties as a chase pitch.

What shocked me was how good his curve was. Like his slider, it lacks ideal speed, coming in at 71-72 mph, but it showed hard, late break and he located it very well. On an 0-2 count, he threw it backdoor to a lefty for a called strike 3. A scout in attendance had one response: "Unbelievable."

His fourth offering is a low 80s changeup that is surprisingly advanced. He throws it for strikes and it occasionally displays good action, sinking away from lefties. He doesn't use it against righties.


Lee didn't show the fastball velocity I expected, at least not with any regularity, even though he reached as high as 93 mph. However, he showed me not one, but two very promising breaking balls, a changeup that rates as at least average and good command. Aside from the home run ball, guys were rarely making good contact against him and he gave up a few cheap hits.

He's going to be a guy I watch throughout the year to see if his velocity rises. I expect his heater, like the temperature, to rise as the season progresses. Until then, he should have little trouble taking care of California League hitting and could earn a promotion to Chattanooga by July.

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