Braxton Lee Preserves Batting Title In Final At-Bat
For a guy who had zero Division I scholarship offers as a 140-pound outfielder in Picayune, Miss, Braxton Lee has accomplished a great deal.
Lee, after two years at Pearl River (Miss.) JC, was the starting left fielder for a Mississippi team that finished third at the 2014 College World Series—the Rebels’ first trip to Omaha in 47 years.
Lee, a lefthanded hitter who is now 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, vaulted to pro ball that same year as a 12th-round pick by the Rays.
After hitting just .209 in Double-A in 2016, Lee returned to the Southern League this year and won the batting title, hitting .309 as a leadoff hitter and center fielder. The 24-year-old also led the league with 147 hits.
In the middle of that breakthrough season, Lee was one of two prospects traded to the Marlins for shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. He switched SL affiliates with the trade, going from Montgomery to Jacksonville.
Lee endured his only batting slump toward the end of the year, when he went 3-for-30 over nine games beginning on Aug. 25. The slump nearly cost him the batting title.
Ultimately, Lee needed to collect a hit in his final at-bat of the season, which came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Jacksonville's finale, to stave off Chattanooga's Jonathan Rodriguez.
"It was a 3-1 count, and there was no way I was going to take a walk,” Lee said. "I got a fastball inside that probably would’ve hit me in the chest if I didn’t swing. I happened to hit it directly over the third base bag for a double, and that’s how I won it.”
Lee’s defensive prowess and offensive improvements convinced the Marlins to assign him to the Arizona Fall League. But that invitation caused Lee to panic because his wedding day was slated for Oct. 14.
The Marlins, though, allowed Lee to fly back to Mississippi to get hitched before returning to the AFL.
"One thing you can count on with Braxton is his above-average defense,” Jacksonville manager Randy Ready said. "He gets good jumps and takes straight angles to the ball. He has average arm strength but a quick release, and he’s very accurate.”
Baseball America Prospect Report (Nov. 17)
BA Prospect Report, with stats and notes from last night's games.