Friday, September 30, 2005
Through the first 5 innings, Wang pitched an efficient game. Aside from a first inning RBI single by AL MVP candidate David Ortiz and a leadoff solo blast by Jason Varitek in the 2nd inning, Wang had his sinking fastball working for him, getting almost all of his outs via the ground ball and with a good fastball - K'ing Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, and Jason Varitek. The ESPN radar gun had Wang clocked consistenly around 93 to 94 mph. Television viewers in Boston and New York reported that Wang was clocked at 97 to 98 mph via the local radar gun.
Things went a little haywire for Wang in the 6th inning. After a leadoff single by Damon, Wang got the first out of the inning by K'ing Renteria on a 92 mph fastball. Damon stole second base, which forced Torre to have Wang intentionally walk Big Papi. Manny Ramirez then sharply singled to left field, to load the bases. The next batter, Trot Nixon was walked with the bases loaded to force in Boston's third run. With the bases loaded and only one out, Wang got what he was looking for from Jason Varitek, a ground ball to first basemen Jason Giambi. However, Giambi muffed the throw to home in a force attempt, which allowed David Ortiz to score Boston's fourth run. Olerud then hit a sac-fly to center field to score Boston's fifth and final run. Wang finally got out of the inning when Giambi made a nice play at first when he snagged Bill Mueller's sharply hit ground ball. Final result of the disasterous 6th inning: 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 error, and 3 runs given up.
Despite the tough inning, Joe Torre decided to let Wang start one more inning. In the 7th, after getting 2 groundball outs, Wang walked his 6th and final batter and was pulled. Wang was still throwing hard, clocked at 93 to 94 mph in his last pitching frame.
Overall I'd give Wang a B based on his performance tonight. Facing the vaunted offense of the defending champs, Wang for the most part shut them down, only giving up 4 hits and 3 earned runs in 6 and 2/3 innings. Playing in a hostile environment with playoff implications, Wang, despite his wildness, pitched well enough to keep the Yanks in the game. Games like this are invaluable to Wang's pitching growth.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Tracy is trying to get a read on how effective Kuo pitches in back to back games. So far the results haven't been very positive. But, Kuo is the type of kid who will use this game tonight as fuel for the next time out.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Kuo's ERA is now down to a respectable 5.40 with 9 K's in 5 IP.
The scouting report on Hu called him "one of the most polished players in the FSL." Hu was praised as a defensive whiz with quick feet, soft hands, smooth fielding, good flexibility, and a plus throwing arm with accuracy. The report also noted his ability as a good contact hitter (.313 BA), display a keen eye (40 K's in 470 AB's), and flash some occasional power (8 HR's). The one knock on Hu was his lack of patience at the plate. He only had 19 BB in 470 AB's.
Hu should start next year at AA. If he continues to progress, I wouldn't be surprised if Hu is the next one to make it to the Majors.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Kuo displayed a good fastball, clocked around 94 mph, and more importantly demonstrated better command of his pitches, throwing 5 out of 6 pitches for strikes. Kuo also dropped his ERA down to 6.75
Monday, September 26, 2005
Sunday, September 25, 2005
In the game, Wang was all business. The first four innings, Wang was brilliant, pitching a no-hit/shutout performance. He had his sinker working for him, inducing 9 ground outs and 2 K's in those innings, while running his fastball around 90-93 mph.
Then in the 5th inning, Wang had trouble locating his pitch, and left a few pitches over the plate. In the 5th he gave up a lead-off double to Corey Koskie, then induced a groundout from Hillenbrand. The next Blue Jays hitter, Eric Hinske tatooed a 92 mph fastball that was left over the plate, into the centerfield bleachers for a 2-run blast. Following Hinske's HR, Gregg Zaun walked. Reed Johnson then singled, advancing Zaun to 3rd. Johnson was caught trying to steal 2nd for the second out of the inning. Wang then gave up a bloop-double to Aaron Hill, scoring Zaun. Finally, Wang got a ground out from the next batter to end the inning.
In the 6th and 7th inning, Wang continued to struggle with his command, although he was still throwing the heater around 89-92 mph. However, he was able to escape both innings without giving up a run, while giving up 2 singles. Wang did manage to induce 3 more ground outs and a fly out sandwiched around a K . Wang finished the 7th inning, trailing 3-2. However, in the bottom of the 7th, Robinson Cano smashed a 2-run HR to make Wang eligible for the win. In the final 2 innings, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera closed out the game and the Yanks offense secured Wang's 8th win of the season.
Wang's most impressive stat of the night was his 14 ground outs to 1 fly out ratio. The Yanks infield D did a good job backing up Wang. Congrats to the Wanger as he runs his record to 8-4 and lowers his ERA to 4.02.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Chien-Ming Wang will get the start this Sunday for the Yankees against the BlueJays. The decision was made by Torre as Aaron Small will be moved to the bullpen to make way for Mike Mussina's return to the starting rotation. - Quite a vote of confidence for the young hurler from Taiwan!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Well, Chin-Feng Chen's 7 year contract with the Dodgers is officially over. Rumor has it, that Chen will pursue a career in Japan if he is not invited back next season for spring training. Personally, I think it's time for Chen to move on. The Dodgers organization has shown that it is going with younger prospects and that Chen's window of opportunity has closed. Should Chen leave for the NPB, the Pacific League would be ideal for showcasing Chen's bat, as the DH rule is still in effect.
Taiwan will begin preparations for the World Baseball Classic next month in October. The head coach will be selected first. It was rumored that the CTBA was interested in seeking out Saharu Oh to coach the team. That was wishful thinking, as Oh has been tapped to lead Japan in the inaugural Baseball Classic. Once the coaching staff is complete, 60 potential players will be selected for tryouts. From there, the roster will be eventually reduced to 30 players.
I also found out that Yung-Chi Chen sat out the last game of the World Cup against the US because of an injury - a sprained foot. Let's hope it's not too serious, as he prepares for his offseason workouts.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
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!
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Taiwan did manage to place a member of it's team to the tournament All-Star team. Yung-Chi Chen, a member of the Mariners organization, was named an All-Star at 2B. In the 8 games Taiwan played, Chen had a great all-around showing, leading the team in hitting(BA), and showing a tremendous glove (o errors). 2B is Chen's most natural position, although the Mariners have been playing Chen at 3B in the minors.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Based on World Cup play, I am encouraged to see that Taiwan's future is in good hands. Bringing the youngest team into the tourney, Taiwan was able to gain valuable international experience for these young guys. Despite a losing record of 3-5, Taiwan was fairly competitive, even in their losses. The loss to Colombia was a huge upset and an aberration; but Japan, the US, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico all sported a more veteran and better all around team than Taiwan. Taiwan did manage a quality win over Australia.
Taiwan's hitters were able to prove that they can compete with anyone. In preliminary action, Taiwan had the 5th highest team batting average (.320), was 6th in total HR's hit (8), 4th in team hits (89), and 5th in slugging (.500). However, timely hitting was a problem for Taiwan, as it was only average/middle of the pack with 48 runs scored. Also errors cost Taiwan a number of runs and even a game (vs. US), as evidenced by it's team .958 fielding percentage.
Taiwan's young pitchers were overmatched against the competition they faced. Against weaker opponents, Taiwan's pitchers were very effective. However against the stronger teams in the pool, the kids faltered. As a team, Taiwan's pitchers gave up 8 HR's in 8 games, and had a team ERA of 3.92.
Many of these unsigned kids will go on to careers in the CPBL. Tseng(P) and Kuo(OF) are 2 good examples of kids who put up good numbers in the World Cup, but because of their lack of prototypical size, will probably end up playing domestically in Taiwan.
As for the kids who signed contracts with the MLB and the NPB; Lo, Hu, and Chen hit very well and I'm sure made their respective organizations proud. Pitchers Cheng, Keng, and Chiang will need to step up their game if they expect to climb the organizational ladder all the way to the top.
It will be interesting to see if any of these kids make the national team next spring for the World Baseball Classic.
Starting pitcher Sung-Wei Tseng was solid for Taiwan, going 6 strong innings, giving up only 1 ER, K'd 7 hitters, and had 2 BB's.
As for Taiwan's hitters,
Yung-Chi Chen DNP
Ching-Lung Hu was 1-4 with a double
Kuo-Hui Lo went 2-3 with a BB, a HR, and 2 RBI's
Chun-Yu Kuo went hitless in 4 AB's and K'd all 4 times
Others of note:
Ying-Chieh Liao was 2-2 with a HR and a RBI
Sheng-Wei Wang was 1-3 with a HR and a RBI, but committed 2 errors in the 6th inning
Thus ends Taiwan's play in the World Cup.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Chi-Hung Cheng started the game for Taiwan and couldn't even get out of the first inning. He gave up 5 consecutive base hits and 5 earned runs, before being yanked. The relief pitchers didn't fare much better.
Taiwan's hitters continued their torrid hitting pace:
Yung-Chi Chen was 3-5 with a RBI and a double
Ching-Lung Hu went 1-4 with a BB and a double
Kuo-Hui Lo was 2-4 with a triple
Chun-Yu Kuo hit his 4th HR of the tourney and was 2-4 with 2 RBI's, including the roundtripper
Taiwan will be playing the final matchup of preliminary play against the US. The original matchup between the US and Taiwan was scheduled on 9-11-05. However due to the sensitivity of the date to the American ballplayers, the game was rescheduled for 9-13-05. You can follow the action live on this link.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Offensively, Taiwan racked up 18 hits, as pretty much everyone in the lineup got in on the hit parade.
Chen in 5 plate appearances had a single and a RBI
Hu in 5 plate appearances had 2 hits - (single,double) and a SB
Lo in 5 plate appearances had 2 hits -(single, double), a SB, and 2 RBI's
Kuo in 5 plate appearances had 4 hits - all singles
In an interesting note, Kuo-Hui Lo has DH'd in all of the games and has not played defensively in the OF.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Yung-Chi Chen had a good game, going 2-4 with a BB and a RBI
Ching-Lung Hu was 1-4
Kuo-Hui Lo was 1-4
Chun-Yu Kuo was 1-4
Click here for game boxscore.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Po-Hsuan Keng pitched an efficient 4 1/3 innings, but had some control issues - walking 3 batters, which led to him getting pulled early. Keng had 3 K's/gave up 3 hits - one of which was a HR/and left the game in a 1-1 tie. Like the Puerto Rico game, Taiwan's relief pitchers could not hold down the opposing batters.
Bouncing back from a tough game yesterday, Ching-Lung Hu went 2-4 at the plate.
Yung-Chi Chen was 1-5.
Kuo-Hui Lo was 0-3 with 2 SO's.
Chun-Yu Kuo went 0-2 with 2 SO's, with 2 BB's.
Taiwan has an off day tomorrow, but is currently sitting in the 5th spot in it's pool. Taiwan has 4 games remaining, and faces a scenario where it might have to win 3/4 to advance to the next round. That could prove to be a tough task, as Australia is no pushover, while the US and Nicaragua are currently undefeated.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Japan, led by it's own super pitching prospect - Tsujiuchi Takanobu, beat South Korea 5-4 in the championship game. Tsujiuchi, a LHP, led Osaka Toin HS to the semifinals in the 2005 Koshien Tournament - the Japanese HS national championships, where it lost to the eventual champs - Komadai, this past year. Tsujiuchi (clocked at 95 mph) has been recorded to be the hardest throwing southpaw ever in Koshien Tournament history. Tsujiuchi was named the best LHP in the Asian AAA tourney.
Taiwan managed to have 2 kids named to the Asian AAA All star team:
Chun-Lin Chen - best RHP
Chao-Ting Tang - best LF
Overall, this has been a tremendous showing of young Asian pitching talent, with South Korea's Han Ki-Joo and Japan's Tsujiuchi Takanobu headlining the cream of the crop.
A brief synopsis of how some of the young guys did for Taiwan:
1)Yung-Chi Chen: 2-4 1 HR, 1 RBI
2)Ching-Lung Hu: 0-4
3)Kuo-Hui Lo: 1-2 BB, caught stealing once
4)Chun-Yu Kuo: 1-3 1 HR, 3 RBI's
5)Chi-Hung Cheng: Starting pitcher, went 5 innings, gave up 3 ER's/1 HR, with 4K's/2BB's
Chun-Yu Kuo has blasted 3 HR's in the past 2 games.
Well, the current crop of junior pitching talent in Taiwan has been a big disappointment to me. However, it wasn't too long ago that several prominent pitchers from the high school class of 2003 ascended into the spotlight.
Semi-quoting an R. Kelly song, " '85 was a very good year, if you know what i mean my dear......"
1985 was the birth year for these 5 young pitchers:
1)Chien-Ming Chiang (Yomiuri Giants) 5/27/85
2)Chi-Hung Cheng (Toronto Blue Jays) 6/20/85
3)Wei-Yin Chen (Chunichi Dragons) 7/21/85
4)Ching-Lung Lo (Colorado Rockies) 8/20/85
5)Chia-An Huang (Seattle Mariners) 11/11/85
The development of premium young arms is vital to Taiwan's continued success on the international baseball stage.
Monday, September 05, 2005
In the Asian AAA Championships, the junior NT lost to South Korea in one semifinal 5-4. The kids from Taiwan faced the top South Korean high school pitcher, Han Ki-Joo - who inkedthe highest signing bonus in the history of the KBO. Han has been clocked as high as 152 kmph, but was consistently around 145 to 148 kmph in the game against Taiwan. Hitting stars for Taiwan were: Chih-Hsien Chiang with 3 hits, and Kun-Sheng Lin with 2 hits. Kai-Wen Cheng, pitched a tough game, going 7 1/3 innings, giving up 3 runs.
Over in Holland, the senior NT got their bats going against Spain. Taiwan won 12-2. The hitting parade was led by:
1)Yung-Chi Chen: 2-5, 1 double, 1 RBI
2)Ching-Lung Hu: 3-5, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 RBI
3)Kuo-Hui Lo: 4-4, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 SB
4)Chih-Yao Chan: 4-5, 1 RBI
5)Chun-Yu Kuo: 2-3, 2 HR's, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Sunday, September 04, 2005
In World Cup action, Taiwan defeated the Czech. Republic in their opening game 10-1. As expected, Chung-Yi Chen and Ching-Lung Hu provided instant offense to the senior NT. Chen was 3-5 with a double, while Hu was 2-5 with a triple. Kuo Hui Lo managed to muster up a base-hit. Based on the official team rosters, Taiwan has the youngest team in the tourney. We'll see if youth is served in this competition. The first real test for Taiwan should be against Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Taiwan is in group A with Japan and South Korea. The other bracket B features China, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are guaranteed spots in the semifinals. Only the top team from group B will advance to play the top team from Group A in one semifinal, while the runner up in Group A will play the 3rd place finisher of Goup A.
Kids to keep an eye out for Taiwan are:
P Kai-Wen Cheng
P Chu-Kuan Li
1B Chih-Hsien Chiang
DH Shen-Fu Tsai
Taiwan will play it's first game 9/3/05 - Sat. against the Czech Republic. The rest of it's preliminary schedule is listed below:
9/5 vs Spain
9/6 vs Puerto Rico
9/7 vs Japan
9/9 vs Colombia
9/10 vs Australia
9/12 vs Nicaragua
9/13 vs USA
Based on the competition, Taiwan would have to finish in the top 4 of it's bracket to continue on to the quarterfinals. That could be a tough task because Taiwan is struggling right now to find people who can consistently hit and produce runs. OF Chih Yao Chan, DH/OF Kuo Hui Lo, and 1B Chun Yu Kuo have been the only guys who have proven they can hit international pitching. Also, there has been no dominant pitcher for Taiwan in pre-World Cup action.
That could all change with a couple of guys who've been playing in the US and Japan joining the team recently. P's Cheng(BlueJays) and Chiang (Yomiuri) are key editions to the team. I see those two guys essentially being the aces of the pitching staff. If Taiwan wants to do well, those 2 kids will have to pitch well and keep the scoring low. Hu(Dodgers) and Chen(Mariners) should help the IF defensively and provide a much needed boost to an anemic offense.