MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats target pitching role for 11th-rounder Lee

Nats target pitching role for 11th-rounder Lee

WASHINGTON -- Is Andrew Lee a pitcher or a hitter? Based on his college stats at the University of Tennessee, he can do both. But according to Nationals assistant general manager Kris Kline, Lee will be a pitcher in the organization.

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The right-handed throwing Lee was picked by Washington in the 11th round of the 2015 MLB Draft on Wednesday, and he could become a power reliever once he reaches the big leagues. His fastball has been clocked as high as 95 mph.

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Lee was a solid reliever for the Vols this past season, appearing in 21 games with nine saves and a 2.67 ERA. He had 32 strikeouts in 27 innings after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012.

"He is a pitcher for us. He is an athletic kid. He had a good year. He can swing the bat a little bit," Kline said. "He has a good delivery, throws lots of strikes. He throws free and easy, the velocity is there."

This past season, Lee had arguably his best year as a first baseman. In 41 games, he hit .306 with nine home runs, 31 RBIs and a .388 on-base percentage. Defensively, Lee made only one error.

For the season that he had, Lee was a top 10 candidate for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award

Lee started to make a name for himself during the summer of 2014. He led the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League with a .333 batting average in 24 games.

Is it hard not to make Lee a hitter?

"You never know, Micah Owings turned into a hitter, but he is a pitcher for now. We'll see, it's nice to have those options, though," Kline said. "He's athletic. He's 6-foot-5, 225 [pounds]. He is a big kid."

Lee, who could not be reached for comment, has another year of eligibility to go and could return to Tennessee, which is the school that produced Todd Helton. Lee is one of six member of the Tennessee baseball team to be selected in the Draft the last three days. Kline is confident that Lee is going to sign with the Nationals.

"We feel good he is going to sign. They know what the money is. I don't see any problems," Kline said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.