Considering that all eyes were focused on Clayton Kershaw’s Opening Day start for the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, there’s a strong chance that Zach Lee’s excellent debut for High-A Rancho Cucamonga may have been overlooked.
Lee, the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect, tossed five shutout innings in his California League debut, allowing only one hit while striking out five and issuing a walk. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, all five of the 20-year-old right-hander’s strikeouts were swinging, which is always an encouraging trait in a young pitcher.
During spring training, I wrote about Lee when discussing every organization’s No. 1 prospect:
The right-hander's fastball typically sits in the 90-93 mph range to both sides of the plate, and he'll give hitters a different look by mixing in a cutter. For the first time in his young career, Lee threw both a curveball and slider in 2011, with the latter frequently showing the potential to be a plus pitch. His changeup is pretty mediocre, but it could still be an effective pitch down the road.
For someone his size, Lee repeats his mechanics well despite throwing across his body. He exudes confidence on the mound while controlling the pace of the game, traits rarely found in high school pitchers.
Lee will likely begin the season at High-A, and considering both his polish and maturity on the mound, he should log significant time at Double-A as early as July.
Our friends from Bullpen Banter, Steve Fiorindo and Al Skorupa, were in attendance for Lee’s outstanding start and noted that his fastball sat at 90-91 mph, while his breaker worked in the low-to-mid-70s with good shape and pace.
The best part?
They captured some high-quality video of his Cal League debut, which you will find at the top of the post.