Fall baseball tryouts at major schools in NCAA Division I usually don’t produce too many success stories.
Most of the time, tryouts end with players walking off the field and into a life outside the game.
Chase Lee was rejected once at the University of Alabama and nearly didn’t go back.
“After the tryout, I gave myself about a month, and I thought about it,” he said. “Was it worth it, getting my pride shot again? Getting told you weren’t good enough? Again?”
Lee decided he’d stay with it. At the suggestion of Alabama coach Brad Bohannon, he ditched his over-hand delivery and started to throw from the side.
He ended up making the team on the second try, played three years on varsity for the Crimson Tide and turned himself into one of the top relief pitchers in school history.
Now the 6-foot, 170-pounder is in his second year with the Frisco RoughRiders, and he’s still turning heads.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Frisco manager Jared Goedert said. “He’s got good stuff.”
On Tuesday night at Wolff Stadium, Lee pitched scoreless ball in the eighth and ninth innings to earn the save.
His stuff in the ninth was impressive. With the RoughRiders leading by two runs, and with two runners aboard, he struck out Missions standout Esteury Ruiz looking to end the game.
Ruiz was frozen on a sinker that started out wide and broke back into the zone.
“Honestly, the slider has been the bread-and-butter pitch since I started throwing from that slot,” Lee said. “It’s really helped me get right-handed hitters out. The sinker really allows me to keep them off of it.
“Actually, the way it’s shaped now, it’s turned into a pitch I can get away with. In year’s past, it was something I had to (use) to set up the slider. I feel like I can throw it for a strike and not get hurt.”
Lee has two saves in two save opportunities this season and a 0.00 earned run average. In two years, he’s got five saves in six chances. In his brief pro career as a prospect with the Texas Rangers, his ERA is 3.00.
Goedert said he likes the way that Lee, a sixth-round draft choice last summer, is coming along in his development.
“He’s funky enough, with his arm slot,” Goedert said. “But then his … fastball and his slider, they stay on the same track. They can go one or two ways.”
Meaning that, if a hitter guesses wrong, Lee usually wins the battle.
The Missions have lost three straight on the homestand to the RoughRiders going into Game 4 of a six-game series Friday night.
Late Thursday, the RoughRiders scored four unearned runs in the eighth inning to win, 6-3. An error by Missions shortstop Korry Howell led to the uprising, which included a three-run homer by Jordan Procyshen.
Pitcher Jack Leiter, the No. 1 prospect in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system, is scheduled to start the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.
Series at a glance
Tuesday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 4
Wednesday — Frisco 9, San Antonio 6
Thursday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 3
Friday — Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday — Frisco at San Antonio, doubleheader, 5:05 p.m.