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May 28—Cal Poly baseball coach Larry Lee and his wife considered two Hall of Fame names for their son.

“Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, ” Brooks Lee said of his name’s origin. “It was supposed to be Brock, for Lou Brock. But, I mean, ‘Brock Lee’ would not be the best name. My dad really liked Brooks Robinson and Lou Brock. It’s a good name to be named after.”

As a second-year freshman for Cal Poly, Brooks Lee is making a name as one of the nation’s top college shortstops. projects Lee as the top position player for the 2022 Major League Baseball draft for first-year players. Baseball America predicts Lee as the 2022 draft’s top hitter. Division I players are draft eligible after their third college year. Lee was limited to two pinch-hit appearances because of a knee injury for the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season. Entering this weekend’s four-game series against Hawaii, Lee is hitting.341 with 23 doubles (two shy of Cal Poly’s single-season mark ) and 50 RBIs (second in the Big West ).

Soon after graduating from San Luis Obispo High in 2019, Lee had a shot at a lucrative pro career. The Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks extended invitations to private workouts ahead of the 2019 draft. He was projected to be selected in the late first round, with a slotted bonus value of up to $3 million. But Lee announced he intended to honor his commitment to Cal Poly. The San Francisco Giants used a what-the-heck, 35th-round pick on Lee.

“I’m thankful I got to make a decision like that.” Lee said. “It means I’ve gotten my game to a high level at a younger age. I’m really thankful to be out here, and every day I’m getting better. That was the ultimate reason I wanted to go to college. Hopefully in three years, I’ll be better than I was (in high school ) and have a better stock.”

Larry Lee said of his son : “Going to college was the right decision. He’s where he needs to be in terms of growth as a baseball player and as a person.”

Brooks Lee, who lives in Cal Poly’s dorm for sophomores, said his father has been helpful in his baseball career. “It’s a pretty cool situation to be in, ” Lee said. “He’s always been a coach to me growing up. I never really played for him for travel ball or anything. We were always together. I’d always come to the field as a kid. That was going to his job, basically.”

Lee said he focuses on playing—not on rankings or stats. Lee acknowledges he is grounded because he was not highly ranked through his junior year of high school.

“I don’t really like to look at statistics, ” Lee said. “I know the rankings, but it’s something online. It’s something that doesn’t matter to me at the end of the day. There are other players who are ranked very high. It’s all from the perspective of the player.”

Entering this final weekend of the Big West season, the Mustangs, like the visiting Rainbow Warriors, have health issues. One of their best hitters, first baseman /designated hitter Matt Lopez, has missed five series because of a season-ending knee injury. Starting pitcher Bryan Woo (2-0, 1.17 ERA in five Big West games ) will undergo elbow surgery. Starting pitcher Travis Weston and relievers Dylan Villalobos and Bryce Warrecker will be unavailable because of ailments. With three healthy reserves, the Mustangs will have only 12 position players.

“We’re real thin, ” Larry Lee said. “We’re limping to the finish line.”

The’Bows, 24-22 overall and 16-20 in the Big West, need to sweep to finish at.500 in league play. The Mustangs, 27-25 and 17-19, are seeking their 13th 30-victory season since 2000.