Provided nothing is altered in the next collective bargaining agreement, the Baltimore Orioles will have the first overall selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, and they will be in position to make a choice from a talented pool of draft-eligible players.
Prep bats like infielder Termarr Johnson and outfielder Elijah Green stand out as powerful hitters and as athletes in the field. College prospects Jacob Berry (LSU) and Jace Jung (Texas Tech) offer mature approaches and would give the Orioles help at the big-league level in an expedited fashion.
Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee, a switch hitter, promises to be in the mix for the top draft spot as well, with an added appeal to the Baltimore faithful — his connection to an Oriole great since birth. Brooks’ father, Larry Lee, the head coach at Cal Poly, named his son after Brooks Robinson.
“From a pretty young age, I knew [I was named after Brooks Robinson], actually,” Lee said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 26. “I had a Baltimore Orioles T-shirt, and it was kind of like a jersey and it had Brooks Robinson on the back. I was always reminded of it as a kid.”
Lee has turned himself into a premier draft prospect who has shot up rankings over the last year. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound shortstop slashed .342/.384/.626 with 10 homers and 57 RBIs as a sophomore at Cal Poly before traveling across the country to Massachusetts to play in the prestigious wood-bat Cape Cod League. With the country’s finest college baseball talent around him, Lee slashed .405/.432/.667 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.
He also displayed the ability to put the ball in play in 2021. He struck out just 34 times in 250 plate appearances in the spring and 16 times in 88 plate appearances in the Cape.
Lee was the No. 2 player in California coming out of high school, per Perfect Game, and was a 35th-round selection of the San Francisco Giants in 2019. He clearly remembers when he began to take a step above his peers.
“I think I really started realizing that I could have some potential around my junior year of high school,” Lee said. “That’s kind of when I started growing into my body and having a little more success, and having success on a national standpoint, instead of just here in my city.”
Lee can pinpoint his breakout moment, too.
“I had a game that year [where] I hit two home runs from the left side, opposite field, and then a home run from the right side,” he said. “I was just on fire — just kind of an out of body experience.”
As Lee enters what is presumably his final college season, he says his ability to stick anywhere in the field will keep him around for years to come. He believes that his athleticism and glove skills will allow him to transition to another position if needed.
“I have the ability to play anywhere on the field, second and third especially,” Lee said. “Back in the day, before I thought I was good, I used to be a catcher and that’s where I had some success too.”
“Being a shortstop is having the ability to also play anywhere else because you have to have the most skills defensively to play shortstop,” he added.
Lee is no stranger to high praise or professional attention. He plans to take the whole draft process in stride.
“Looking at all the different outcomes for the draft, it’s definitely something you don’t want to think about too early,” Lee said. “But it’s always in the back of my mind, what’s going on. [I’m] excited for whatever happens when the time comes.”
And if ever given the opportunity to be introduced to an Orioles home crowd with Brooks Robinson in attendance, Lee will cherish that moment.
“That would be surreal,” Lee said on the prospect of meeting the inspiration for his name. “That would be probably one of the best experiences of my life, for sure.”
For more from Lee, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Owen Main/Cal Poly Athletics