As the Major League Baseball Draft approaches, senior center fielder Ryan Lee’s dreams of being a part of the big show are in the hands of scouts and general managers across the league.
If you asked Cal Poly’s head coach Larry Lee, Ryan Lee has done everything in his power this season to move himself into a position to be drafted. As a leadoff hitter, Ryan Lee had on base percentage of .401 and broke the s Division I record for consecutive games with a hit with 26. A record previously held by Brandon Roberts, a minor leaguer in the Twins organization, who had a 25-game hit streak in 2005.
“I’ve talked to a few scouts,” Ryan Lee said about his chances. “I mean, hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity to keep playing baseball. It would be a dream come true.”
When Ryan Lee first came to Cal Poly, he was greeted with frustration. He red-shirted his freshman year and while most people would take that as great news, he was disappointed because he knew he was better than that.
“It was definitely humbling,” Ryan Lee explained. “Obviously, I wanted to play, but I didn’t feel like I was getting a lot of opportunities to prove myself.”
Even though the opportunities may have been few and far between in Ryan Lee’s eyes, Larry Lee could see the improvement and was taking note of his player’s approach to the situation.
“He came here as a walk-on and kept on impressing us more and more,” Larry Lee said. “Eventually, he earned a scholarship and then became a regular starter. To put together the career that he has at Cal Poly speaks to who Ryan is.”
One of the missing components early in Ryan Lee’s career was hitting against right-handed pitching. When Ryan made the team his sophomore year of school, he was given limited opportunities in games, mostly being called upon in late innings when the Mustangs were ahead. He rarely had chances to hit against right-handers and show his capabilities.
“Getting few opportunities here and there never got me down,” Ryan Lee explained. “All it did was motivate me to work harder and improve.”
This past off-season, with starting centerfielder Logan Schaffer leaving his position vacant, Ryan Lee had big shoes to fill.
“Logan was an outstanding player,” Larry Lee said. “It’s hard for players to fill the spot of a player like that, but Ryan answered.”
Ryan Lee, who finished his final class in March, is graduating with a degree in business management and will no longer be chasing down fly balls in Baggett Stadium. That means another great player’s shoes have to be filled.
“Hopefully, other players were paying attention to Ryan and were able to see how he played the game and can utilize the knowledge that they learned from him,” Larry Lee said.
Ryan Lee definitely set a high bar for his replacement, recording the fourth highest batting average on the team, the highest fielding percentage for the Mustangs, a Division I hitting streak record and a team-leading 27 steals.
“I’m not as strong as some of the other players. I’m not going to hit balls out of the ball park,” Ryan Lee said. “Stealing second is just as good as hitting a double to me.”
Ryan’s career at Cal Poly was one of progression. It started with a red-shirt season and ended with a berth in the regional playoff series.
“We wanted to make the regional tournament,” Ryan said. “That was our only goal. Going throughout this year and having such great success and being able to accomplish that one goal was very rewarding.”