Astros sign first-round Draft pick Korey Lee

June 13th, 2019

HOUSTON -- When the Astros asked first-round pick Korey Lee whether he wanted to take batting practice with the big leaguers Wednesday afternoon, he said yes without hesitation. The Astros hope it’s only a matter of time before he’s doing it on a regular basis at Minute Maid Park.

Lee, taken with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, signed his contract Wednesday and received a signing bonus of $1.75 million, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, which is below the slot value of $2,257,300. He will report to short-season Tri-City on Thursday.

“It’s a feeling like you’re a little kid and you’re dreaming about it and you don’t want to wake up,” Lee said.

The Astros are hoping to save some bonus pool money with their first three picks -- Lee; second-rounder Grae Kessinger, a shortstop from Ole Miss; and third-round Jordan Brewer, an outfielder from Michigan; in order to be able to sign fourth-round pick Colin Barber, an 18-year-old outfielder from Pleasant Valley High School in California who’s committed to Oregon.

“Part of our job through the first 10 rounds is managing our pool of resources and trying to get as much talent as possible,” Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We were pretty creative this year in doing that again, and as a result we were able to hopefully get to a point we have enough resources to sign all of our Top 10 picks.”

Lee, 21, could move quickly through the Astros' system considering their lack of premium catching depth in the Minor Leagues. The Astros won’t put a timetable on him or offer any Major League comps, but they were wooed by his power and his arm. He hit .338 with 12 doubles, 15 home runs and 57 RBIs while posting a 1.045 OPS in 51 games for the Golden Bears and threw out 12 of 27 runners attempting to steal.

The Astros have known Lee for quite some time. He was the bat boy on the University of California-San Diego team that Korey’s brother, Kellen, played on. Ryan Leake, who was a coach on that UCSD team, is the Astros' scout in San Diego, where Lee is from.

“We were excited to get him,” domestic scouting supervisor Kris Gross said. “The physical attributes jump off the page right away. He’s a strong, physical catcher, moves around well behind the plate. Bazooka for an arm. We really think it’s going to be a big factor in shutting down the running game and at the plate, the combination of his and power, jumped out for us.

The Astros have signed 16 of their 40 selections in the MLB Draft, including top 10 picks Hunter Brown, a right-handed pitcher from Wayne State; sixth-round pick Matthew Barefoot from Campbell University; seventh-round pick Blair Henry, a right-hander from Texas; eighth-rounder Luis Guerrero, an eighth-rounder from Miami Dade Community College; and C.J. Stubbs, an 10th-round pick from USC and the brother of Astros catcher Garrett Stubbs.