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Draft selection tops off great year for Lee

Draft selection tops off great year for Lee
June 13, 2012
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The signings are pouring in from the Cleveland Indians’ 2012 Draft class, and one of the early signings was 9th round pick right-handed pitcher Jacob Lee.

Lee, 22, is a college graduate and just finished his senior season at Arkansas State University where he went 9-1 with a 2.77 ERA this season and was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year. This season he also set the school record for strikeouts and innings pitched, and fell one victory short of the school’s win record.

Last season Lee paid close attention to the draft and ended up going undrafted, but this season the prospects were much better that he would be drafted at some point day two of the draft. Even though the chances were good he would be drafted, he did not want to put himself through last years’ experience once again.

“Last year I sat in front of a computer with my phone and everything, but it was too much and I couldn't handle it watching everyone get picked,” Lee said.  “This year I took my mind off of it a little bit by being on the golf course most of the day with some friends and family. I got a call on the 18th hole and turned and threw my golf club when I was told [the Indians] picked me."

Lee was excited to be an Indian even though he was kind of surprised at the pick since he had not talked to or seen the Indians much of late.

“I had spoken with [Indians area scout Steve Abney] a couple of times last year and this year, and I filled out some paperwork from him earlier in the year,” Lee said.  “But I really had not heard from him much lately, so it was kind of a surprise pick, but at the same time I was excited to be a Cleveland Indian.”

Abney called Lee a round before he was picked to check in on him, and then called him back ten minutes later to tell him the good news.

“I spoke with [Steve] about ten minutes before he called me to [tell me they picked me],” Lee said.  “He called to confirm that I was still interested even though I had not spoken with him in a while. He told me he would call me in about ten minutes to tell me they picked me, and sure enough, he did.”

The call from Abney set off a fireworks worth of emotions for Lee. This time around draft day was much more enjoyable for him as he got to experience the thrill of being drafted and the chance to continue his dream.  Abney flew into Arkansas on Friday and he and Lee worked out the final details of his signing bonus and contract, and then Lee put pen to paper and officially became a Cleveland Indian.

“It is really exciting,” Lee said.  “Last year I didn’t get picked and it was a tough day, but this year going through it again and just knowing what to expect was a lot more enjoyable. I was excited to sign and I get to play baseball a little longer, and I am fortunate to get paid to do it.”

Lee features a low 90s fastball, curveball and changeup, and has proven to be a durable and dependable starter over his college career. He loves baseball as he watches it quite regularly on TV, and when he is not doing that he is working out in the gym trying to get better. He will go to short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley in the coming days, and will probably open the season in the starting rotation there.

“I am a four pitch mix guy, I throw strikes and I pitch to contact,” Lee replied when asked to give an overview of himself.  “I am not a big strikeout pitcher, but I get a lot of groundballs.”

With his pro career about to get started sometime next week, Lee can’t help but reflect on the rollercoaster ride he has been on over the past year.

“After not getting picked in the draft I went and played summer ball in New England and set their franchise ERA record, then I came back to school this spring and set a couple of records at school for strikeouts and then got pitcher of the year and third team All American,” Lee said.  “I guess it has been a year of ups and downs, and being a Cleveland Indian now kind of tops it off.”

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

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