Braxton Lee led the Southern League with a .309 average in 2017. His Miami Marlins career ended with a total of three base hits.
Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 184 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Braxton Russell Lee is a 5’10”, 185 lb. outfielder from Picayune, Mississippi, where he attended Picayune HS. Lee is the fourth Picayune native to make it to the majors, after Sol Carter (1931, Philadelphia Athletics), Rhyne Hughes (2010, Baltimore Orioles), and T.J. House (2014-2017, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays).
Starting in 2012, Lee joined the Pearl River CC Wildcats for two seasons of Junior College ball, then matriculated to the University of Mississippi in 2014. In his only season of Division I play, he slashed .281/.375/.322 in 69 games, with 30 stolen bases and 25 RBI. In that year’s MLB Amateur Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays chose him with their 12th round selection. Follow Lee on Twitter @Brax_Lee.
Selected 367th overall, Lee is the 10th player to make the majors after getting selected at that spot. Most prolific of the “367 Club” is Gerald Williams (1987, New York Yankees, career WAR 6.5).
After coming to terms with the Rays, Lee joined the short-season-A Hudson Valley Renegades in the New York-Penn League, where he played 51 games in center field and slashed out a .287/.350/.332 line. 2015 would see him bumped up two levels, to the Florida State League’s Charlotte Stone Crabs in high-A. In 115 contests he hit .281/.347/.305.
A full season at double-A with the Montgomery Biscuits in the Southern League in 2016 resulted in Lee hitting .209/.269/.256 over 110 games. That sad line led to him playing another season at the level, and he responded in kind.
In 67 games over the first half of 2017, Lee hit .321/.391/.401, with his first two home runs since high school and 16 RBI. On June 26th, the Rays sent him along with Ethan Clark to the Miami Marlins for Adeiny Hechavarria.
Lee remained in the SL after the trade, moving to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. He slashed .294/.398/.364 the rest of the way, totaling an SL-leading .309 batting average in 127 combined games. He was ranked as Miami’s number 17 prospect prior to the next season.
Lee’s best tool is his speed, rated at 65 prior to the 2018 season, according to Baseball Census:
"Exceptional speed; arguably double-plus right now based on measurements from AFL — 4.01 – 4.14 from home to first base on full swings; 3.88 – 3.97 to first base on drag bunts; 8.04 from home to second base; 11.01 from home to third base. Aggressive runner who understands speed is his carrying tool; hustles hard out of the box to beat out ground balls and rush infielders, and will run quite a bit once on the base paths. Decent reads on pitchers and situations, but more so a natural runner right now who gets by on speed alone; tool will improve as he learns to better read pickoff moves and game situations."
Lee was set to open the 2018 campaign with the triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League when he was recalled to the Miami Marlins on Opening Day. He got into eight games over the first two weeks of the season, going three-for-17 from the plate with two RBI, one walk, and eight strikeouts. He was also perfect in seven outfield chances. On April 13th, he was sent down to the Baby Cakes, and for the remainder of the season split his time between them, the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, and the Shrimp. Between those three clubs, he hit a disappointing .233/.316/.294 in 84 games.
After going 40-man unprotected after the season, Lee was selected by the New York Mets in the rule 5 draft on December 12th. As Lee was chosen in the minor-league portion of the draft, the Mets do not need to carry him all season long on the big league roster.
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