Braves' Lee slugs first homers as a pro

22nd-round Draft pick collects four hits, drives in five for Danville

Alex Lee is 14-for-23 (.609) with six RBIs and five runs scored his last seven games. (samfordsports.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | July 20, 2016 1:27 AM ET

Alex Lee hadn't homered since he hit two in his final game at Samford University on May 28.

"I do have a habit of hitting a couple back-to-back and in bunches like that," he said.

The Braves' 22nd-round pick in this year's Draft smacked his first two Minor League roundtrippers and drove in five runs on a 4-for-4 night as Rookie-level Danville topped Pulaski, 10-8, on Tuesday at Dan Daniel Memorial Park.

"I don't know, for some reason I get a lot of home runs bunched up together," Lee said. "[But] it was kind of hard to believe, with it being my first home run as a pro the at-bat before, and then I come out and hit another one in consecutive at-bats. It was a really good feeling rounding the bases for the second time."

Before clearing the fence twice, the 22-year-old reached on an infield hit in the second. Yankees starter Rafael Lara and first baseman Brian Reyes both went for the ground ball, leaving first base unguarded. 

Lee battled Lara (2-2) again in the third and worked the count full with two on and one out in a tie game. The Alabama native belted a three-run shot to right for his first pro homer.

"He didn't want to walk me to load the bases and I knew that," Lee said. "I got a 3-2 fastball over the heart of the plate and I was able to stay inside the ball and I pulled it and, luckily, I was able to get enough on the baseball to put it on the other side of the fence.

"Felt really good, just to get it out of the way and not necessarily have that pressure of getting the monkey off your back and it felt really good to finally get some backspin on the pull side and drive a ball to the other side of the fence."

When Lee came up in the fifth, he was facing reliever Miles Martinez, but the result was the same. The first baseman ripped a two-run homer, again to right field.

"I wanted to be aggressive. He got two outs very quickly and I knew he was going to attack to try to get the third," he said. "He missed down with a fastball initially and then came back with a fastball over the heart of the plate and I put a good swing on it, caught some barrel and got my second home run."

Lee already doubled his career RBI total, but he wasn't done. The left-handed hitter knocked a run-scoring single in the ninth to cap his first four-hit game as a pro.

"I felt really good. I was getting my foot down on time and I got good pitches to hit," he said. "I was able to stay short, stay on the ball and just focus on keeping my head down and I was able to find the barrel three out of four times. I snuck out that first hit, but I felt really good up there."

The big night was made even more memorable by the presence of Lee's girlfriend, Kelsey Royalty, who plays softball at Samford.

"It was really special. It's not her first time watching me as a professional, but for her to drive all the way up from Atlanta and to take time out of her busy week to come support me, I'm really glad that I was able to play well in front of her," he said. "She understands that you're not going to have your best game every game, but at the same time, she's more competitive than I am, so she expects a lot of me.

"So a little pressure with her being there, but after I got that first hit, I kind of calmed down and played baseball."

Lee got off to a 2-for-18 start in the Appalachian League, but once he got used to using a wood bat and facing Minor League pitchers, he's been on a tear. The two-time all-Southern Conference selection is batting .390 with four extra-base hits, seven RBIs and five strikeouts in 41 at-bats with Danville.

"I was hitting the ball at the beginning of the season, I just wasn't finding many holes; I don't have many strikeouts on the season. But now I'm finding the barrel a lot more consistent," he said. "As far as adjustments I've made to pro pitching, I've been getting my foot down a little sooner and it's been helping me with my plate discipline and pitch selection."

Reliever Connor Gilmore (2-0) struck out two in 1 1/3 perfect innings for the win and eighth-round pick Taylor Hyssong fanned the final two batters for his first professional save.

Yankees prospect Dermis Garcia homered for the fourth straight game and Estevan Florial also went yard for Pulaski.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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