Posted: Jun 07, 2019
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – San Luis Obispo High School shortstop Brooks Lee, who made a verbal commitment to play baseball at Cal Poly in August 2016 and signed a National Letter of Intent last November, turned down multiple $3 million offers from Major League teams last weekend and will honor his commitment to play baseball for his father.
"Brooks pulled his name out of the draft Sunday (the day prior to the first two rounds of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft) by notifying all 30 teams that he will play college baseball," said Larry Lee, who has coached at Cal Poly for 17 seasons. "The decision was very difficult and emotional for everyone in our family.
"I had to make sure that the decision was based on what was best for my son and not my program," Lee added. "I did not want him to make the decision based on making me look good, which was inherent in him. I had to diffuse that.
"We never let money be a determining factor in the decision. The decision was based on the fact that maturing and developing his skills in college was the way to go. It was a win-win situation for all of us."
Brooks Lee was invited to tryouts with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in the final days leading up to the June 3-5 Major League Baseball Draft.
"The right Major League teams were involved," said Larry Lee. "They were talking about taking Brooks late in the first round, somewhere between the mid-20s to low-30s. Because he was a high school player, he had all the leverage.
During pre-draft conversations, discussions were held as to what round and how much it would take for Brooks Lee to forgo college.
"He was asked by a couple teams if he would sign for a substantial amount," said Larry Lee. "We decided as a family that the goal is to become an impact player at the Major League level at some time and play at that level for a long time. It was not about making it to the Major Leagues as soon as possible.
"It had to be Brooks' decision," he added. "I wasn't going to force anything on him. He's very level-headed and has a good understanding of what he needs to work on, as a player and person. He is a very confident kid and, in three years, wants to be drafted much higher and be even more ready to enter professional baseball.
"He should have some great experiences in the next three years."
Brooks Lee was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 35th round Wednesday. "That was a courtesy draft pick with no intention to sign," said Larry Lee. "It was a sign of good faith."
Larry Lee's two older brothers played professional baseball in the Giants organization. Terry Lee was a first-round pick of the Giants out of San Luis Obispo High School in 1974 while Mike Lee signed a free agent contract with San Francisco in 1973 after finishing his college career at Santa Clara.
Larry's father, Tom Lee, was a boxing, football, basketball and baseball coach at Cal Poly and was inaugurated into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.
Brooks hit .405 as a senior shortstop at San Luis Obispo High School this spring, going 32-for-79 at the plate with 13 doubles, two home runs and 25 RBIs. He struck out just nine times in 92 plate appearances and led the Tigers of head coach Brian Wong to a 23-5-1 overall record, second-place finish in the Mountain League and to the semifinal round of the CIF-Central Section Division 1 playoffs.
Lee hit .437 in his three varsity seasons with 122 hits, including 28 doubles, four triples and six home runs. He drove in 78 runs and also scored 78 times, striking out 22 times in 328 career plate appearances. Lee compiled a .630 slugging percentage and .487 on-base percentage in his prep career.
Lee was named PAC 8 Player of the Year, San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year by The Tribune and a first-team All-CIF-Southern Section Division 3 selection following his junior season. Lee hit .462 in 2018 with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs and 35 RBIs with five stolen bases. He also made five appearances on the mound with a 1-1 record, 0.00 ERA, one save and 11 strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
The switch hitter hit .438 as a freshman second baseman in 2016 with six doubles, a triple, one home run and 18 RBIs, earning first-team All-PAC 8 and All-San Luis Obispo County accolades in addition to the PAC 8 batting title. He missed his sophomore campaign due to an injury.
The nearly three-year process of making decisions involving family and friends has been difficult but rewarding.
"This was a great experience to go through, very educational for all of us in dealing with Major League Baseball organizations and everything that goes on with it," said Larry Lee, who himself played in the minor leagues for the Utica Blue Sox in 1983.
"I can't wait for the day when I can start yelling at him on the field," the Mustang head coach said.
Cal Poly fourth-year junior pitcher Bobby Ay was the lone Mustang selected in the draft earlier this week, chosen by the Diamondbacks in the ninth round Tuesday. Ay was 9-1 with a 3.27 ERA this spring as the Mustangs' Saturday starter en route to first-team All-Big West Conference honors.
Shane Sasaki, a senior outfielder from Iolani High School in Mililani, Hawai'i, who signed an NLI with the Mustangs in November, was drafted in the third round (99th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays, also on Tuesday.
Lee was considered by many to be the top high school prospect from California in this year's draft while Sasaki was the No. 1 prospect from Hawai'i. Sasaki, who hit .565 this season, has until mid-July to decide between signing with the Rays or fulfilling his commitment to attend Cal Poly.