SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly rising sophomore shortstop Brooks Lee may be No. 3 among all Major League draft prospects in 2022, according to Baseball America, but he’s No. 1 among Cape Cod League prospects as well as those from the Collegiate National Team.
Ted Cahill of Baseball America ranked the Cape Cod League players while Joe Healy, also of Baseball America, did the same for players on Team USA. While last week’s overall rankings took a holistic view of a prospect, the two lists this week is informed primarily by a player’s performance this summer and conversations with coaches and evaluators who watched the Collegiate National Team and Cape Cod League. As such, some discrepancies in the rankings exist.
USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in July finished a summer unlike any before it. Due to travel restrictions and the continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the team didn’t compete in any international competition overseas or on home soil. Instead, the 48-man roster competed in a series of 11 intrasquad scrimmages mostly in the footprint of the Appalachian League and capped the schedule with a three-game series in North Carolina against the USA Olympic team.
Unique circumstances aside, the CNT still provided a lengthy look at the best college players returning to campus for the 2022 season and a preview of what’s to come in the next couple of drafts.
Baseball this summer returned to Cape Cod after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic — the first time the Cape Cod League had missed a season since the end of World War II.
The league’s return was a welcome site for many around the game and especially for the people on the Cape. The league drew large crowds all season long and the play on the diamond was at a typically high level, despite some unusual circumstances.
Like everyone else in amateur baseball, the Cape had to deal with an abnormally late draft date, which led to a midseason disruption of many rosters. USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team was also twice the size it normally is, which pulled more players away from the Cape. The flip side of that, however, was a shorter schedule for Team USA, which led to more of its players spending part of the summer on the Cape, including Lee.
“Lee in 2019 was the highest-rated position player to make it to college and he’s lived up to that billing,” wrote Cahill. “He this spring was named the Big West Conference’s co-player and freshman of the year and then continued his star turn with a standout summer with Yarmouth-Dennis and USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.
“He hit .405/.432/.667 with six home runs for the Red Sox,” Cahill adds. “His time away from the Cape with the CNT meant he fell 16 at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title, but hitting .405 in 21 games (84 at bats) on the Cape is nevertheless remarkable.
“Lee is a switch-hitter with a short, compact swing from both sides of the plate. With Y-D, he showed more power hitting left-handed, which was consistent with his spring season as well, but he’s an advanced hitter from either side.
“While there are some concerns about his athleticism and ability to stay at shortstop, he did his best on the Cape to answer those questions. He has good hands and his feel for the game and baseball IQ help make up for his more average athleticism. He’s a well-rounded player and his offensive ability would play anywhere on the infield if he did need to move,” Cahill concluded.
Healy adds, “After missing nearly all of the shortened 2020 season due to injury, Lee, the son of Cal Poly coach Larry Lee, burst onto the scene in 2021 by hitting .342/.384/.626 with 27 doubles and 10 home runs, two years after passing on potentially being a first-round pick to attend college.
“A switch-hitter, Lee has always been lauded for his skills as a pure hitter and that continued this summer, when he hit .306 during the intrasquad slate and finished the summer by going 3-for-4 in the final game against the Olympic team.
“His physicality has also raised eyebrows and there’s confidence that he will hit for power at the next level from both sides of the plate,” Healy added. “Defensively, he may not stick at shortstop, but his plus hands and arm should make him a fit at third base.”