Fifteen prep baseball players had their names called after the first two rounds of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft on Monday night. Notably, one wasn’t: star San Luis Obispo High School shortstop Brooks Lee.
As it turned out, Lee chose to turn down life-changing amounts of money for a priceless opportunity — the chance to play for his father at Cal Poly.
Lee was slated to be picked within the top 50, with the MLB Draft Tracker ranking him as the 37th best available player. The 37th pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, high school outfielder Sammy Siani, has an approximate value of $2 million, according to MLB.com.
Over the past three weeks, Lee had been invited to work out with three major league clubs: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
As the draft wore on Monday night, rumors flew across Twitter about teams willing to match any number to get Lee to sign.
Nonetheless, he decided to honor his commitment to the Mustangs and head coach Larry Lee, his dad, which he made after his freshman season at SLO High.
“Cal Poly is an amazing school with resources that apply to everyone who goes there,” Lee said in a statement to The Tribune. “For me, the one resource I look forward to the most is my father, Larry Lee. He has contributed more to making me the best player and citizen I can be.”
Larry Lee has been the head coach at Cal Poly since 2002, after a 16-year stint as head coach at Cuesta College. Cal Poly finished second in the Big West Conference for the third straight year this season, missing a Big West title and an NCAA tournament berth by one game.
Over his tenure, Larry Lee has helped propel Cal Poly into consistent Big West title contenders, despite not always drawing the biggest names during the recruiting process.
Even so, he has seen 31 players go in the first 10 rounds of the MLB Draft during his time as head coach.
That was one of the reasons his son decided to forgo Major League Baseball — for now. Brooks Lee cited how his father has helped players address weaknesses in their game and make it to the next level.
“All of his career, my father has gotten average teams and turned players into high draft picks and maximized their potential,” Lee said.
It’s somewhat fitting that Brooks Lee declined to go the pro route or leave the area to go to bigger school. His family has a storied history at Cal Poly.
Larry Lee has had opportunities to move to higher profile positions, but he has opted to stay in his hometown. His grandfather, Tom Lee, was a baseball, boxing, football and basketball coach at Cal Poly, in addition to being an athletic trainer. He also declined to leave the area to pursue jobs.
Brooks Lee will be the third Lee to carry on the baseball legacy at Cal Poly, and no amount of money could have changed that.
“The dollar value that teams would’ve paid for me had nothing to do with my decision,” he said. “As the No. 1 ranked player in California, my dad simply doesn’t get players who are as polished as I am. With that being said, I want to continue the Lee legacy at Cal Poly and help my dad be a top contender in (NCAA) regionals and the College World Series for the next three years; that of which he deserves.”
Lee hit .437 over his career for the Tigers, striking out just 22 times in 328 plate appearances and had 78 RBI, 28 doubles, four triples and six home runs. He missed his sophomore season due to injury, but was the Tribune County Player of the Year his junior season.
The 18 year old now won’t be eligible to be drafted until his third year at Cal Poly or when he turns 21.
Lee will join a class of seven other recruits at Cal Poly, including four pitchers, another infielder and two outfielders.
One of those outfielders, Shane Sasaki, was drafted in the third round by the Tampa Bay Rays. A product of Iolani High School, Sasaki is the No. 1 ranked prospect out of Hawaii.
Several of the other players could be drafted on the final day of the draft Thursday, but they can count on at least one of them.
Cal Poly pitcher drafted
One Mustangs star was drafted on the second day of the MLB Draft on Tuesday, which spanned rounds three to 10. Cal Poly starter Bobby Ay was taken in the ninth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ay developed into one of Cal Poly’s best pitchers this season, with a 9-1 record and a 3.27 ERA on his way to All-Big West Conference first-team honors.
He had 74 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings and was third in the Big West in wins.