Brooks Lee walked into the St. Paul Saints clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and experienced one of those moments in life that feels surreal. Here he was, a 22-year-old living in a new city and playing for a new team, one rung below Major League Baseball only 13 months after starting his pro career.

He made it his goal to take an express train to the big leagues, but ascending so quickly to Class AAA is a lot to take in for the switch-hitting shortstop drafted No. 8 overall by the Twins last summer.

"I'm horrible at putting things in perspective," he said, laughing.

Here's a snapshot of that perspective: He's awed at being 10 miles down the road from his ultimate destination, Target Field, yet he craves more. His desire is unmistakable when he speaks.

"No matter what people say, it's basically impossible to not think about the big leagues because that's the goal," he said. "You want to be up there and stay up there. No matter where I am, I want to win."

His promotion to Class AAA came last week, after pit stops at rookie, A and AA levels since last August. Baseball America lists Lee at No. 34 in its MLB prospect rankings.

His climb through the Twins system is moving swiftly, but the way he's deftly handled each level should come as no surprise. He was groomed for this career path.

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Lee's father, Larry, is the longtime head baseball coach at Cal Poly. Larry initially wanted to name his only son after his favorite baseball player, Lou Brock.

Larry and wife Liz decided that Brock Lee wasn't the right choice, so they named him Brooks after Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.

Larry got hired at Cal Poly a year after Brooks was born. His son grew up in that ballpark, a typical coach's kid immersed in the game.

Brooks accompanied his dad to practices and games and always helped prepare the field. In eighth grade, Brooks started playing in Cal Poly intrasquad games, mostly in the field and occasionally as a hitter.

"He was never fazed by the speed of the game," Larry said by phone this week.

The family's home in San Luis Obispo, Calif., had enough land to build a barn that contained a batting cage. As a fifth-grader, Brooks would wake up at 6:15 a.m. every morning when his dad left for a run. Larry would hand him a laminated sheet with an exercise routine. Some days he'd fire up the pitching machine. Most days he completed the assignment by the time his dad finished his run.

"Sometimes he was flat on his back sleeping," Larry said. "That's OK. At least he got up and went outside to the barn."

Father and son love having long discussions about baseball and the intricacies of hitting. Brooks absorbed every lesson. He played for his dad at Cal Poly for two seasons, always calling him "Coach Lee" — even at home.

They worked together on swing mechanics for so many years that Larry knows his son's swing better than anyone, so much so that whenever Brooks hits a slump and needs advice, he'll send his dad a simple text: "What do you got?"

Larry got the signal earlier this season when Brooks was struggling at the plate.

"Spring training was miserable for me on the hitting side," Lee said. "I played the best defense that I've ever played in my life in spring training and then I hit pretty poorly. It was a weird feeling."

His dad visited him at Class AA Wichita one weekend in mid-June. Larry videotaped his at-bats and took notes during the game. They had dinner at night to discuss issues that Larry identified. They had more conversations with Twins minor league officials the next day.

Lee's hitting started to click soon thereafter. He hit .338 with seven home runs and 36 RBI in 34 games from June 14 until his promotion to St. Paul.

"He's way smarter than I ever was at his age," Larry said. "His baseball IQ is through the roof. If he asks me for help, that's when I will say something."

Lee didn't need his father's help diagnosing problems with his hitting approach the first few games after joining the Saints.

"I was swinging for the fences," he said. "No matter how hard I tried to be calm, I was still swinging like crazy. Me being immature."

No such problems Wednesday at CHS Field. Lee made hard contact in his first three plate appearances vs. Louisville, including two RBI singles.

Lee started at third base after playing shortstop in his first four games. His position flexibility and athleticism could help solve a shortstop logjam with the Twins when he eventually joins Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis.

"They will figure it out for me," Lee said. "All I care about is being in the lineup when that time comes. I could care less where I play. The goal is to make it up there."

That outcome looks inevitable either later this season or next. Nothing has slowed his rapid rise through the farm system yet.