Sunday, September 18, 2005

Kuo Hui Lo - Scouting Report

I've decided to profile Lo after witnessing his talent and meeting him in person this past summer. Despite his quiet demeanor, he's a great guy who goes out of his way to meet and sign for all of his fans.

Lo currently is 19 years old, but will turn 20 at the end of September. His age could work against him, since it will take him a few years to get accustomed to the US.
Most Taiwanese players face culture shock when they get here. Some players thrive - see Chin-Feng Chen and Chin-Hui Tsao, while others struggle - see Chia-An Huang and Ching-Lung Lo.

Physically, Lo stands 6'2" and weighs 185 pounds. He bats righty and throws righty. He has a very projectable body that should get stronger as he matures.

From a genetic stand point, Lo is Chin-Hui Tsao's nephew - yea, the same Tsao of the Colorado Rockies who clocks triple digits on the radar gun. As you can see, baseball runs in the family.

Lo's most impressive attributes are his offensive capabilities. Lo has always been able to hit for high average and demonstrate plus power during competitive play. In his native country, Lo hit .363 in 80 AB's while cranking 2 HR's, contributed 20 RBI's, and had 11 SB's, with only 10 K's in Taiwan's amateur senior level league in 2005 play. During this summer's US tour, which I eyewitnessed, he was easily the most impressive offensive player on both sides of the field.
Lo's bat during the World Cup produced a top 10 BA: .433 while batting clean up for Chinese Taipei.

Lo is able to generate plus power and get good wood on the bat because of a fundamental level swing, quick wrists, and strong hips which help generate tremendous bat speed and torque.
Citybear, who I have a weblink to, has taken some great pictures of Lo # 52 at the plate - check it out. At the plate Lo has shown good discipline. Earlier this summer, while facing one of the top US college pitchers in Ian Kennedy, Lo was able to work the count and draw a walk from Kennedy.

As a baserunner, Lo shows good instincts, although he was picked off first base by US pitcher Chris Michalak during World Cup play. Lo tied Ching-Lung Hu with 2 SB's for the team lead in that department. I personally timed Lo around 4.3 seconds (+/- .1 seconds) going from home to first base - which is above average for his size.

Defensively, Lo covers adequate range in the OF with his wheels. During summer play in the US, Lo played all 3 OF positions, although his primary defensive position was CF. I was unable to judge Lo's arm strength, as he was never tested in any of these games. It is interesting to note that Lo was used strictly as a DH for Taiwan during World Cup play. I do not know the reasoning behind the manager's decision not to play Lo in OF.

It is easy to see the similarities in Lo's game with the guy he idolizes: Chin-Feng Chen of the Dodgers. Lo wears #52 in honor of Chen. Physically the two guys are very similar: Chen stands 6'1" and weighs 190 pounds. Both are good fastball hitters with power and speed potential. However, hopefully the comparisons to Chen end here. While Chen is viewed as an icon in his native Taiwan and has had success at the AAA level, he has been unable to latch on to a major league team secondary to perceived weaknesses: defensive liability and a high K rate. My hope for Lo is that he will be able to surpass the achievements of Chen and someday be a key contributor in the Major Leagues. I wish Lo the best of luck in achieving his dreams of making it to the Big Show!

Edited: 9/19/05


JH said...

Is Lo a more highly regarded prospect than Yung-Chi Chen was coming out of Taiwan? They seem to be on similar tracks, and performed comparably at the World Cup (though in ~30 ABs, performance is pretty much meaningless).

Given the Mariners' track record, they'll probably start Lo out in Everett (SS), so to be regarded as a prospect at his age he'll have to start producing quickly. I know Chen's poor season in Wisconsin really hurt him as far as the organizational depth chart goes.

TheTaiwaneseTerror said...

Hey J,
I was talking to an anonymous source who told me that Chen is probably a better overall prospect because of his defensive abilities as an IF. He said that as an OF, Lo faces much stiffer competition in getting to the Bigs. If it means anything to you, Chen's signing bonus was $210,000. Lo was signed for around $155,000. Based on the money offered, it would seem that Chen was a higher priority sign for Ted Heid. I do believe that Lo has a better bat then Chen, but we'll see how that plays out next season.
Oh yeah, and by the way, I was told by the same source that Lo's arm is average but adequate - he pitched in junior high and hurt his arm because of overuse. That seems to be the common theme in Taiwan - abuse of the kids arms. I think that's why you see so many injuries when they get here.