Getting to know Hao-Yu Lee, the newest Detroit Tigers prospect

Hao-Yu Lee is the newest member of the Detroit Tigers organization after he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Lorenzen.

This afternoon the Detroit Tigers traded starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen to the Philadelphia Phillies for their #5 overall prospect, Hao-Yu Lee – a 20-year-old second baseman. Lee was an international signee from Taiwan just a few years ago and has made it as high as A+ ball this season in the Phillies' Minor League system.

Why it matters

The Tigers had no choice but to trade what they had to trade. And, while some may balk at the return, it must be remembered that Lorenzen could only be making nine starts for the Tigers and his value wasn't as much high as some others on the market. Getting a young, nice hitting-profiled hitter, was a good get for Scott Harris and his plan. Both and FanGraphs project Lee's debut to occur in 2025, which fits with the timeline that Harris seems to have projected.

Hao-Yu Lee by the numbers

Lee is a stocky, right-handed hitting second baseman, who can also play shortstop or third base. FanGraphs scouting report even suggests that limited range could lock him into a third base position. But his bat profiles very well.

  • In A+ ball this season Lee has 285 PA in 64 games
  • He's hitting .283/.372/.401, with a wOBA of .359
  • He wasn't 10.2% of the time and has only struck out 18.6% of the time
  • He has 5 HR, 14 SB, 26 RBI, and 25 runs score
  • His 115 wRC+ is 15% above league average.

Scouting Reports on Hao-Yu Lee

With the above mentioned, here's how Lee is made up as a ball player.

From FanGraphs:

Lee is the best of the recent contingent, a well-rounded, bat-first second base prospect who is coming off of a first full professional season during which he slashed .284/.386/.438 with nine home runs in 350 plate appearances, with the bulk of his games coming with Low-A Clearwater.
Lee is a plate-crowding bucket strider looking to pull. His hands have exciting life, and he generates authoritative pull power for a such a young hitter. His track record of high-contact hitting dates back to his amateur days and has continued as a pro, where his contact rates (83% in-zone, 75% overall) were close to big league average even though his swing looks like it's compromising his plate coverage. Whether such a pull-oriented approach to contact will be sustainable or leave Lee vulnerable on the outer half of the plate against upper-level arms we just won't know until he faces them. For now, his contact and chase rates are a better-than-average mix.
Lee's a thicker guy and doesn't have deep-career power projection, but it's reasonable to expect to see an uptick in 2023 as he gets further away from that fracture, and eyeball reports from the Carpenter Complex suggest that's the case. Even though his body is maxed, Lee is only 20 and might come into another half grade of pop just through maturity. For a middle infielder, an average (or slightly above) hit and power combination would profile in any everyday role. Lee has played shortstop, second and third base. Especially with the death of the shift, it's much more likely that an athlete with his build ends up at third base. His range already isn't the best, but he bends well and has above-average hands and actions. Lee is young enough that it's possible he may yet cut some weight to give himself a better chance of playing a more complete second base, the position where his bat has the best chance of profiling in an everyday role.


Signed in June 2021 out of Taiwan for $570,000 at age 18, Lee didn’t waste any time in making a strong first impression. His nine-game debut in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League that summer, in addition to his instructs play that fall, had the Phillies thinking they might have an even better player than they thought when they signed him. He did nothing to dampen that excitement during a first full season in which he reached High-A, with only a broken hand slowing him down at all.
The 5-foot-10 infielder has the chance to be a very good hitter, with a clean swing and an advanced approach at the plate. Lee is a baseball rat who loves to work on his hitting and makes a ton of contact, striking out in just over 19 percent of his 2022 plate appearances while walking 12.3 percent of the time. There’s power in that compact frame and he’s added 10 pounds of muscle to it, which should help him impact the ball even more moving forward.
Lee’s instincts serve him well on the basepaths and defensively. He knows how to steal a base and runs the bases aggressively. He’s played three infield positions thus far and the Phillies plan to continue to have him do so, but he’s probably best suited for second base, with the upside of a big league regular at that spot.

The bottom line

The Detroit Tigers and Scott Harris turned nine more starts of Michael Lorenzen into a pretty solid hitting prospect, one that could solidify their keystone position in the near future. With Colt Keith, Justin-Henry Malloy, and Jace Jung on their way to Detroit in the near future too, there are plenty of different combinations and options as they continue to work their plan. Good get for the Tigers.