Whether clearly earned — and it has been — or borne of desperation, all Zach Lee needs to know is his first opportunity at pitching in the majors has finally arrived.
The Dodgers announced that Lee had been called up from triple-A Oklahoma City and would make a spot start Saturday against the Mets in New York.
Lee will become the 14th pitcher to start a game for the Dodgers this season, the most the team has used in one season since 1952. The 1944 Brooklyn Dodgers used 19.
It has been a long and circuitous road for Lee, who signed a team record $5.25-million deal as the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2010 after surprising most in spurning a quarterback scholarship with LSU.
His five-year stay in the minors was filled with more success than failure, if lacking the kind of dominance many hoped for when the right-hander was taken in the first round from McKinney, Texas.
Lee, 23, struggled last season at triple-A Albuquerque (7-13, 5.38 ERA) and was starting to disappear from all those top prospect lists. This season, however, at more pitching-friendly Oklahoma City, he is 7-3 with a 2.36 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
It became almost a mystery why everyone else with a healthy arm was being called up and given a chance in the rotation and Lee continued in the minors.
At the end of May, when it appeared he might get his chance, he was shelved with tingling in his fingers. He returned to triple-A July 11 and has made two starts for Oklahoma since, allowing three runs in 12 innings.