2019 CRCBL Pitcher of the Year -- Chase Lee
Date: Aug 13, 2019
By Matt Cohen
Cary, N.C. – Chase Lee wasn’t a pitcher a year ago. He hadn’t learned his sidearm delivery. He hadn’t found his slider.
Now Lee is striking out batters at one of the highest rates in the Cal Ripken League, and he’s doing it front of scouts.
“It’s awesome, a bunch of scouts there, but I try not to worry about it,” Lee said. “Great facility, really nice field, really fun to play on.”
Lee was one of yet another big group of Cal Ripken League pitchers that impressed at the Southeast Collegiate Baseball Showcase, despite it coming in a losing effort.
The Cal Ripken League outhit the Southern League 9-3 but lost 2-1.
Tate Soderstrom (Big Train, Arizona) pushed across the only run of the game for the Ripken League as he doubled to the left-center field gap, driving in Scotty Morgan (Aces, George Mason).
Ryan Okuda (Big Train, Virginia Tech) and Ben Jordan (Giants, Kentucky) held the Southern League hitless through the first four innings. Okuda got the start and struck out four over his two innings of work.
Maceo Campbell (Big Train, Longwood) struck out two in his one inning of work. Radar guns had his fastball topping out at 96 mph.
Lee came into the game for the eighth and ninth. His sidearm delivery getting the attention of the scouts in attendance. Lee closed the game with two perfect innings, striking out three batters. The Ripken League pitchers struck out 14 total in the game.
Originally a shortstop, Lee became a pitcher after walking on to the Alabama team. His coach told him to use a sidearm delivery to increase his velocity. It’s that delivery that gives Lee’s fastball the late run to evade bats.
But his best pitch is the slider, it’s the one he used for all of his strikeouts.
“I always threw a decent curveball and when I changed arm slots I just tried to throw the same way,” Lee said.
His slider got the eyes of scouts at the USA Baseball complex in North Carolina, and it’s the biggest reason why Lee, a closer, is second in the Ripken League with 41 strikeouts. He’s only thrown 23 innings.
Lee got to show scouts during his performance his ability to throw a change up, a pitch he is still learning, as well as find success against left handed batters. Even as he still develops after his first year, Lee knew he had found his place right from his first appearance with the Crimson Tide.
“It was like, ‘Oh this is it for real. I’m actually playing with the big boys now,’” Lee said.
He has just one season as a pitcher under his belt, but a season in the SEC as a walk on nonetheless. Lee still has a lot of room to grow as a pitcher even with the success, and he knows it.
“We got a long way to go, we still got a lot of work to do,” Lee said. “It’s going to be a road, we’re going to work. Hopefully I can get some big opportunities.”
Nick Parker (Giants, Coastal Carolina), however, struggled and allowed a two-run double in the top of the sixth inning. The Ripken League fell behind 2-1, the first time it had during the showcase.
The Ripken League had chances to tie the game in the late innings, but failed to take advantage of runners in scoring position. Cade Doughty nearly tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with a double that bounced off the wall, just inches short of a solo-home run. But he was stranded at second.
The Ripken League finished the showcase with a 1-1 record after beating the Sunbelt League on Monday night. The final playoff push will begin as league games resume this week.