Patrick Ochs

Moments after ejection, Braxton Lee found out he’d been traded from Rays to Marlins

Former Tampa Bay Rays prospect Braxton Lee follows through on a swing against the Minnesota Twins in a 2016 spring training game. Lee was traded to the Miami Marlins on Monday.
Former Tampa Bay Rays prospect Braxton Lee follows through on a swing against the Minnesota Twins in a 2016 spring training game. Lee was traded to the Miami Marlins on Monday. AP

Braxton Lee was ejected for the first time in his professional career Monday afternoon.

Then things got even weirder for the Picayune native.

While sitting alone in the Montgomery Biscuits clubhouse, his phone buzzed. It was a text from a friend in Triple-A.

“Dude, you just got traded,” the Triple-A friend said with a screen grab from an article.

That’s weird, Lee thought. He had just been on the field and hadn’t heard anything about any trade.

Then his phone practically blew up with messages; one after the other saying basically the same thing — “You’re a Miami Marlin!”

As his teammates finally began to filter into the clubhouse, so did more texts without actual confirmation.

Even the Biscuits’ coaches told the room they hadn’t received official word of any trade — only to return from their office moments later to ask Lee to join them.

It was official. Lee was 50 percent of the return the Miami Marlins received for trading slick fielding but light hitting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I was almost in disbelief at first,” Lee told the Sun Herald on Tuesday afternoon after reporting to the Southern League’s Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. “It was crazy.

“I’m just in awe it happened and that it happened to me. I’m very glad and excited about it.”

The news comes in the midst of a career year for the former Pearl River Community College standout. Originally a 12th-round selection of the Rays in 2012, Lee has worked his way up the organizational ladder. After struggling initially with the Biscuits in 2016, Lee turned in one of the better first-half performances in the Southern League.

Lee currently leads the league with a .321 batting average to go along with 14 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. He also boasts a .391 on-base percentage and .401 slugging percentage. Lee, who is currently riding an eight-game hit streak, also earned a spot in his first all-star game.

In 343 games across three levels, Lee has a career .268 average with a .333 OBP and .314 slugging percentage.

“I wouldn’t say my swing is better. I wouldn’t say anything is better other than my mindset every single day,” Lee said, regarding his offensive improvement in 2017. “My approach has been to mainly hunt the fastball down the middle. As long as I’m ready for that one pitch I will be able to read and react to any other pitches. It helps me lay off pitches.”

Lee will likely make his Jacksonville debut Wednesday when the team opens a five-game home series against the Mobile BayBears. Lee will return to Mississippi July 25-Aug. 3 for a pair of five-game series at the Mississippi Braves and Biloxi Shuckers.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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