Twins land one of Draft's best college bats in Lee

July 18th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins' Draft room filled up at around 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, they had very little sense for how the top of the Draft would unfold, with the expectation that there would be a run on top hitters ahead of them. 

But then came a pair of surprises: Both the Rangers (at No. 3) and the Cubs (at No. 7) selected pitchers, leaving the Twins quite excited that they were able to select switch-hitting shortstop Brooks Lee, viewed as possibly the top college hitter in the class, with the No. 8 selection in the 2022 MLB Draft.

"If Kumar [Rocker at No. 3] pushed Brooks Lee to us, great," Twins scouting director Sean Johnson said. "It’s hard to say who made who fall to our pick, but regardless of who caused it, [for] the domino to trickle, we’re ecstatic."

Lee was ranked No. 5 among draft prospects by MLB Pipeline after showing off "otherworldly bat-to-ball skills," according to his scouting report, while hitting .357/.462/.664 with 15 homers and 25 doubles while rarely striking out in 58 games as a junior in 2022 at Cal Poly, where he played for his father, head coach Larry Lee. The Twins are hopeful that he will grow into "impact power" to accentuate the stellar hit tool.

"We were hoping to get a player who would make it to our pick who maybe we didn’t think would absolutely get there," Johnson said. "Brooks Lee fits that bill. Our room was thrilled when we were able to select him, that he made it down that far. You just didn’t know how the board is going to fall."

As fortunate as the Twins felt to have Lee fall to their pick, it's similarly fortunate that Lee has made it to this point in his career.

In October 2019, during a preseason intrasquad game during his first fall at Cal Poly, Lee snapped his lateral collateral ligament in his knee and his biceps femoris hamstring muscle while running out a ground ball. Lee said that doctors told him there have only been a few dozen such injuries in recent history.

After undergoing surgery that "had only been performed a few times prior," according to's Jonathan Mayo, Lee made a miraculous recovery and immediately slotted in as Cal Poly's best hitter in '21, when he posted a 1.010 OPS, which he improved to 1.126 as a junior in '22. In between, he posted a .405/.432/.667 line against strong competition in the Cape Cod League.

"You can see a lot sometimes in the summer out in the Cape Cod League, where some players, when there’s only a couple hundred people at the park, they play differently," Johnson said. "Brooks plays the same in front of 200 people as he does in front of 3,000 or 4,000. You can see the enthusiasm in his style of play, and he’s a winner. He’s a winning-type player, and that’s what we like the most about him."

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Lee plays a solid shortstop and is the third first-rounder drafted at the position by the Twins in the last six years, joining  (2017) and Keoni Cavaco ('19), though he could eventually end up elsewhere in the infield. Johnson said that when the Twins were scouting Noah Miller, selected at No. 36 overall last season and now ranked the No. 6 prospect in the organization, his skillset reminded them of Lee.

Lee won the Brooks Wallace Award for the nation's most outstanding college shortstop in '22, an award won in previous years by the likes of Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner and Alex Bregman. He led or almost led the Big West in nearly every hitting category, finishing first in RBIs, runs scored, slugging percentage, hits, total bases and doubles, second in batting average and home runs, and third in on-base percentage.

And being a coach's son, Lee has regularly been touted as a player with very high baseball IQ and strong makeup, which appealed greatly to the Twins. In fact, he comes from an extended baseball family, with two of his uncles, Terry and Mike, having played in the Minors in the '70s, and Lee is even named after Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson -- no pressure.

"He’s a creative, skilled, instinctual player," Johnson said. "He comes from a really strong baseball family. They’re similar in that nature, that they just have really good instincts, elite baseball IQ, great feel for the game. Really great feel to hit in the batter’s box. And then defensively, he just knows how to complete plays. Which, when you see that in a player, is always exciting."