Getting to know your prospects: Chen-Chang Lee
Name: Chen-Chang Lee (or “C.C. Lee”)
Position: Right-handed reliever
Current team: Cleveland Indians
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2013 stats (minors): 0-0, 2.76 ERA, 16 G, 16.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R/ER, 1 HR, 8 BB, 25 K, .127 BAA
Facts & Info: The Indians signed Lee out of Taiwan as a free agent in September of 2008. He was the recipient of the 2011 Bob Feller Award, which is given to the organization’s top minor league pitcher in a given season.
The Stuff: Lee is an athletic, small-framed pitcher that throws from a unique sidearm slot and has some electric stuff. His four-seam fastball sits at 92-94 MPH and touches 97 MPH, and has great life to it where it gets on hitters quickly. He uses his fastball to setup his other two pitches that he mixes in well, a plus slider and a split changeup. His well above average slider is his go-to pitch and is devastating to right-handed hitters because he gets such good tilt and late bite with it. The split changeup is still a work in progress and a pitch almost exclusively used against left-handed hitters.
The Intangibles: He is really tough on hitters – particularly right-handed hitters – because of the angle in which he throws the ball where it gets good downward sink in the zone and he commands it well to both sides of the plate. His advanced feel for pitching makes him so effective, and he has the plus stuff to get out of jams himself with strikeouts and at the same time limiting walks. He can pitch in almost any situation in the pen as a middle reliever, matchup righty, or setup man because he does so well in high leverage situations and does a good job of limiting inherited runners from scoring.
The Focus: Due to his small size and a lack of much strength, there are durability concerns with Lee in the long term. Some of those concerns stem from his recovery from Tommy John surgery he had last season, though so far he has proven to be 100% recovered and has had no setbacks this season. Also, because of his sidearm slot it makes it tougher to repeat and have consistency with his arm slot, which at times leads to command issues and the ball being left up in the zone. He also has to get more consistent with getting left-handers out.
The Future: Had Lee not gotten hurt last season he was set to be one of the first impact relief arms called up to Cleveland, but instead his call to the big leagues was delayed until a week ago. He has the goods and ability to be a key piece in the Cleveland bullpen for a long time, though the Indians will continue to be very cautious with him the rest of this season. That said, the Indians are looking for stability to their pen and he might be a big boost in the second half of the season and solidify himself into the bullpen like Cody Allen did at this time last season.