On the mend, Lee kick-starts homer barrage at Triple-A

June 14th, 2024

Just six games after returning to Triple-A from injury, provided a jolt to St. Paul’s lineup on Thursday night.

MLB's No. 14 prospect swatted his first home run of the season during a three-hit performance, and his dinger opened up the floodgates as the Saints routed the Bats, 18-4, at Louisville Slugger Field.

The Saints launched eight homers total -- including two apiece by , and -- while tying their franchise record of most long balls hit in a game previously accomplished before St. Paul became affiliated June 5, 2002.

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Out of the No. 2 spot, Lee took right-hander Brett Kennedy (Reds) to 404 feet to right-center field in his first at-bat for his first home run of the season. After the Saints batted around in the first inning, the Twins' second-ranked prospect lined an RBI single off righty Randy Wynne in the first inning and added another knock in the seventh.

“It means getting in the right direction again, “ Lee said. “I've been out for two months so not expecting myself to obviously hit the ground running. But yeah, I feel good and just make sure that I see pitches well. I saw that pitch really well [on the homer].”

The Twins’ 2022 first-round pick (eighth overall) started the season on the Injured List after dealing with a herniated disc in his back. He rehabbed in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League and with Single-A Fort Myers before coming back to Triple-A. Since rejoining St. Paul on June 5, Lee has been sizzling at the plate with a .907 OPS.

“I've been feeling pretty good for the past few days,” he said. “I have a lot of bad days and a lot of mediocre days, not very many good days … just trying new things. There's always different routines to try and the one that I'm doing right now has been working.”

Part of that new outlook has been for Lee to try and relax instead of focusing his attention on protecting his back.

“I’m as hyper-aware as it gets with all that stuff -- how I sleep or how my posture is, how I'm sitting ... how I pick stuff up. But I'm actually trying to learn how to not do that.

“I think a lot of my day-to-day pain comes from trying so hard to keep tension and making sure that I don't hurt it. That's been making it worse because I get tight. I tried to just relax now. For the past few days it’s been working, so I hope it keeps working.”

Twins No. 22 prospect Severino, Wallner and Helman also looked comfortable at the plate Thursday during their respective two-homer games. Wallner and Helman amassed four hits apiece while Severino and (who hit the Saints' other homer) each plated four runs during St. Paul's 22-hit offensive outburst.

“It always is easier when you're being yourself, and I feel like our team is all being ourselves right now,” said Lee. “I think that's so important.”

While his name has started to surface in callup rumors, Lee is more concerned with continuing to show improvement at the Triple-A level.

“Stats are great, but as long as I stay on the field, I'll be fine,” he said. “My game is really all about hitting for average. ... I’m just more focused on getting hits throughout the year and being that type of player that always leads to wins.

“I've just been enjoying where I'm at right now, and whenever that happens, it's going to happen. And I know it will. And my job is just to stay on the field for it to happen.”