Great Lakes manager John Shoemaker said adversity reveals a lot about a pitcher and his personality. Shoemaker and the Dodgers organization are still waiting to find out how Zach Lee
deals with adversity.
Lee, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound 19-year old who pitched at McKinney High in Texas last season, is 3-0 so far with a 1.09 earned-run average in 24 2/3 innings of work.
The Dodgers selected the right-handed Lee in the first round, 28th overall. A signing bonus of $5.25 million -- the most in franchise history -- lured Lee away from the campus of Louisiana State University, where he had signed to play quarterback for the Tigers and was attending summer school.
"So far this year, and knock on wood, he hasn't had a lot of adversity," Shoemaker said of Lee. "But what we've seen, when he's in a jam, he does not cave in. In fact, that's when he goes to the whip. He has a knack of turning it up a notch. Some people get into a jam and they start to draw back a little bit. He's not like that."
Lee embraces the competitive aspect of sports.
"I'm a very competitive person," Lee said. "I hate losing. But any person at the professional level is very competitive. We all hate to lose. That's a reason why I prefer the defensive side of the battle on a baseball diamond, because you're going to succeed 70 percent of the time, rather than fail 70 percent of the time.
"Statistically, the defensive and pitching side of it, you're going to succeed and win a lot more. If you're a competitor, you're going to pick that side that you have the numbers going for you."
Combining an analytic approach with talent and a fierce competitiveness, Lee has crafted a winning approach.
"I'm pretty clear-headed and level-minded," Lee said. "I try to go into games as prepared as possible. Any game you go into, competition-wise, you want to be as prepared as possible."
Lee said the Dodgers haven't tried to change any aspect of his game so far.
"What I'm working on is being myself," he said. "I'm working on locating my pitches and trying to mix it up as much as possible when I need to. So far, I've been able to locate my fastball well enough where I haven't had to rely a whole lot on off-speed stuff. So far, it's been a great start. The fastball is mainly what I've been throwing, but a few cutters and sliders here and there, and mixing in curves every once in a while and a couple of change-ups.
"They're letting me be me for this first year, and then we'll see if they try to change anything later on," Lee added. "Right now, it's go out, let's see what you can do, and once they see what I can do, kind of change some things here or there. So far, I've been able to be myself, and it's worked out. I hope it continues to work out."
Shoemaker said Lee has been the player the Dodgers expected.
"We knew he was a smart individual," his skipper said. "He came in confident and he was well-prepared. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with football and having to go through quarterback classes. So far this year, he's been all of what we anticipated. I told someone, from the neck up, this guy is really a perfect 10. His attitude, his preparedness for games, his work ethic, his professionalism, even though he's brand new to professional baseball, is almost a perfect 10."
Sidelined: An outfield collision sidelined Fort Wayne outfielder Everett Williams for the rest of the season, and put TinCaps outfielder Donavan Tate on the disabled list until June. Williams will undergo surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee. Tate suffered a deep bone bruise in his left knee. Tate was hitting .316 and batting second in the lineup, and Williams was hitting .300 and batting third in the lineup.
Helping hand: Burlington is raising money to help grounds-keeping intern Cody Wells' family, who lost their home in the recent Alabama tornadoes. Fans are donating money at the park to the fund or by sending a check payable to the Cody Wells Family Benefit to the Bees' Front Office at 2712 Mt. Pleasant Street, P.O. Box 824, Burlington, IA 52601.
Rounding the bases: It was a good morning for Lake County's Michael Goodnight as the Captains beat Lansing, 2-1, on Tuesday. Goodnight pitched six innings, striking out 10 and allowing only one hit. Lake County's Dale Dickerson and Clayton Ehlert combined to throw three hitless innings to close out the game. ... Wisconsin's Tyler Cravy pitched 1 2/3 innings and racked up six strikeouts Monday. He struck out four in the bottom of the eighth, having to face an extra batter due to a strikeout wild pitch. ... Burlington's Blake Hassebrock leads the league with a 0.00 earned-run average through 22 1/3 innings. Hassebrock hasn't allowed an earned run in 24 1/3 innings, although he has been tagged for two unearned runs. ... Bowling Green's C.J. Riefenhauser struck out a franchise-record 12 in a 5-2 victory against Great Lakes on Friday. ... Quad Cities pitcher Anthony Ferrara pitched no-hit ball through the seventh inning in a 2-0 victory against Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Ferrara struck out eight and walked one. He was replaced after the seventh because he had a pitch count of 100 and had thrown 99. Ferrara faced the minimum number of batters, with a walk being erased on a double play.