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Lee drafted by Tampa Bay

By Warren Arceneaux

American Press

Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher and South Beauregard High graduate Nick Lee was drafted Tuesday in the ninth round by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lee, a junior, went 3-7 with a 5.07 ERA and three saves for the Ragin’ Cajuns this season. He has a career record of 16-12 with a 4.40 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 223 innings. Lee’s best season was his freshman season in 2016, when he went 7-1 with a 3.31 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 87 innings.

That season he helped the Cajuns to a 43-21 record and NCAA Tournament berth. ULL won the first games of the regional, played in Lafayette, before losing two games to Arizona in the final round. Lee started the first game of the regional, a 5-3 win over Princeton. Lee allowed three runs in five innings in the game, striking out four and allowing five hits.

Lee was named the 2016 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and was selected to Freshman All-American teams by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger, the National College Baseball Writers Association and Perfect Game.

Lee said he is going to sign, fulfilling a lifelong dream to play professionally.

“My dream from a little kid is coming true,” he said. “From the first time I picked up a baseball it is all I wanted to do. Now to have an opportunity to compete and move up and have a chance to play on the highest level is truly amazing.”

Lee said he is thankful for his time at ULL.

“You can’t ask for a better place to go,” he said. “ULL is place to be. The coaches are great, Coach (Tony) Robichaux has instilled so much in me, not just as player but also as a man. It is not just about baseball here. It is awesome what he has done for me.

“Making a bunch of friends here has been great. I got to pitch the first game in a regional that we hosted here; I can’t even describe what it felt like going out there to the mound for the first pitch.”

Lee said the Rays told him that he has room to grow.

“They said they liked my changeup, the fact that I can do multiple things as far as coming out of bullpen or being a starter. They said they will work on my command so I can throw more strikes and they like my projectability, that I still haven’t filled out yet and can still get better.”

Lee said the organization will give a chance to be a starter.

“Nick is another example of a person who could have potentially gone pro out of high school, but he chose to come here and get better in our system,” Robichaux said in a ULL news release. “Nick has grown a lot as a pitcher with us the last three years. He’s had to help fill several different roles throughout his career and is a really talented pitcher.”

This season, ULL went 34-25 and was not selected for the NCAA Tournament. Lee’s wins came against South Alabama, Tulane and Louisiana-Monroe.

Lee struck out 10 and allowed one hit in eight innings in the win over South Alabama.

Lee’s teammate Gunner Leger, a Barbe High graduate, was drafted as a junior in the 26th round by the Miami Marlins last year but chose not to sign. He took a redshirt this season to recover from an elbow injury and will be eligible to play at ULL next season. Leger was the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year after finishing the season with a 10-2 record and 1.97 ERA. For his career, Leger has a 23-10 record with a 2.45 ERA.

Leger is also eligible to be drafted again this season. The three-day draft concludes today with rounds 11-40.

Two other Cajun pitchers were drafted Tuesday. Hogan Harris was taken in the third round by the Oakland Athletics and Nick Stoelke was taken in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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