There's been some pretty damned good players that the Taiwanese senior and junior NT has produced over the years.
The most successful ones, we hear about all the time and are probably playing overseas in the US or Japan.
Then there are those players who shine brightly on the world stage, only to see their star fade into oblivion. I'll review some of the lesser known players who have burst into the spotlight in the past 10 years or so.
FORMER JUNIOR NT PLAYERS:
First kid: Sheng-An Kuo
Kuo was a member of the 2000 Pony League World Series Champs. Kuo was a key 2 way player who starred along with teammate Ching-Lung Lo. Kuo's manager at the time, Hsi-Chien Chang, gave Kuo the ultimate compliment when he said that Kuo was a legitimate MLB prospect - as a pitcher. Chang's credibility came from the fact that he had also coached Hong-Chih Kuo and Chien-Ming Wang when they were youngsters.
Moving forward one year, Kuo's teammate Lo is signed for a $1.4 million signing bonus by the Colorado Rockies. Kuo continues to play domestically in high school and is selected to the 2001 youth NT and then later the junior NT in 2004.
Today: Kuo plays for Dahan College in Taiwan's men's amateur senior circuit. Kuo's stats through the 5th week of the 2006 Men's Spring Tourney: 0 Wins - 2 Losses, 6.05 ERA, 19.1 IP, 4 K's, 7 walks, 13 ER allowed.
Second kid: Chen-Nan Lee
Lee is a member of the prospect packed 2001 junior NT. However in 2001, Lee is the brightest star of a class that includes: Ching-Lung Lo, Chi-Hung Cheng, Yung-Chi Chen, Ching-Lung Hu, Yao-Hsiung Yang - guys who will eventually sign to play in the US or Japan. In the 2001 Asian Youth Baseball Championships, Lee is the starter in the championship game versus arch-rival Japan. Lee pitches a complete game 2 hit shutout to wrap up Taiwan's first ever championship in this event. A 2 way player, Lee leads the Asian Junior Championships in RBI's, HR's, and ERA.
The following year, Lee is elected to the junior NT again, this time on the world stage. Lee helps lead his team to a silver medal, falling to Cuba in the gold medal game. Lee hits .310, with 1 HR and 5 RBI's, while also pitching 7 innings against top competition. From that team, Chao-Kuan Wu is signed by the Mariners, Ching-Lung Hu is signed by the Dodgers, Wei-Yin Chen is signed by the Chunichi Dragons, and Po-Hsuan Keng is signed by the Blue Jays. Despite his good showing the past 2 years internationally, Lee is not signed.
Today, the 21 year old is playing strictly as a pitcher for the MeiFu Giants on the Men's senior amateur circuit. Through the 5th week of the 2006 spring tourney, Lee was 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 6.1 IP with 7 K's, 4 walks, and 3 ER given up.
Third and Fourth Kids: Shen-Fu Tsai & Hsin-Tsung Wu
Tsai is a member of the 2003 youth NT that wins a silver medal on the world stage, losing only to the US in the gold medal game. Tsai cracks 3 home runs in that tourney and is the feared slugger on that team. Tsai's teammate - Chih-Hsien Chiang is the other star positional player for CT. Wu, who was armed with a 90 mph fastball at the time, is also a member of the 2003 youth NT. During that tourney, he is the winning pitcher for CT against youth power house Cuba and along with Tsai, is a physically imposing player - standing around 6'3".
Fast forward to today: Chiang is widely considered Taiwan's best high school hitting prospect and is signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2006 for a hefty $375 K signing bonus. Tsai, who is considered too lazy and slow by scouts, is currently playing for Kai Nan College on the men's amateur circuit. The 18 year old is doing well - hitting .400 with 10 hits in 25 AB's with 2 RBI's and only 3 K's in the 2006 spring tourney. Wu on the other hand, suffered from arm injuries and is still in the process of regaining arm strength. Wu is currently pitching for the Taiwan Electric Company on the men's amateur circuit. Through 5 weeks, Wu is 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA, and 13K's/14 walks in 22.1 IP in 2006 spring play.
FORMER SENIOR NT MEMBER:
* Chang-Wei Tu - At one time was considered to be the best amateur pitching prospect on the island. Tu leads the men's NT to the 2003 National Baseball Congress World Series Championship. A finesse pitcher, Tu was voted the MVP of the tourney. Despite all the hype he gathered from his success in the 2003 NBC games, Tu was not signed by any overseas teams. Tu did manage to make the 2004 Olympic roster for CT. After the Olympic Games, the ChinaTrust Whales drafted Tu with their top pick in 2005. In his rookie year, Tu went 3-4 with a 3.00 ERA. In 69 IP, he had 34 K's. This year - 2006, Tu is struggling with a 4.46 ERA and a 1-2 record through 5/15/06.