Astros Player of the Day: Korey Lee

Feb 16, 2023; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Korey Lee (11) throws a ball during the Houston Astros spring training workouts at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Astros Player of the Day: Korey Lee

Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight: Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout the spring.

Today’s Astros Player of the Day is catcher Korey Lee.

Lee, 24, is a former first-round pick of the Astros, having been selected 32nd overall in the 2019 MLB draft out of Cal. Lee earned First-Team Pac-12 honors his junior season when he hit .339 with 15 HR and 57 RBI over 50 games.

Lee’s first season in the Astros’ system was successful, spending 2019 at Low-A Tri-City in the New York-Penn League. There he hit .268 with a .359 OBP as a 20-year-old. He lost the 2020 season to the pandemic as MLB canceled minor league baseball that season.

In 2021, Lee started at High-A Asheville where he hit .330 with a .397 OBP and .855 OPS in 29 games before being promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi. With the Hooks, his average decreased but his power increased. Over 50 games at Corpus, Lee hit .254 but clubbed a career-best eight home runs. He had six career professional home runs prior to the promotion to Double-A. Late in the season, he would get promoted to Triple-A Sugar Land, playing nine games and hitting just .229. At 22, he was almost five years younger than the average Triple-A player.

Lee began the 2022 season at Sugar Land, and the change in his approach at the plate continued to manifest. Lee was no longer hitting for a high average or getting on base at a high clip, but his power spiked significantly. In 104 games, Lee hit .238 with a .307 OBP, both numbers quite low for the PCL though he was still more than three years younger than the average Triple-A player. But his OPS was .790, as Lee crushed 25 home runs, more than doubling his previous year’s career-high output.

Lee was called up to the big league roster and played in 12 games with the Astros last season. While he didn’t hit, it is notable that he was chosen to replace Yuli Gurriel on the World Series roster after Gurriel was injured running the bases in Game 5.

Lee has a legitimate shot to make the Astros’ Opening Day roster, but he will need a strong spring at the plate. He is in a positional battle with Yainer Diaz to be the backup catcher to Martin Maldonado. Lee is the superior defensive player to Diaz, but he will need to show that his bat is MLB-ready.

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