Monday, September 24, 2007

2007 Junior NT Member: Po-Ting Hsiao

More often than not, the junior NT of Taiwan has been a good source of providing talent to both MLB and NPB teams. Let's take a look back at the last few classes (from 2000 on).
(*) - denotes how many players were signed by MLB/NPB teams

*The 2000 junior NT's (2) stars were CL Hu (Dodgers), Kevin Huang (Red Sox), & WL Pan (Lions) - the top domestic pitcher in the CPBL today. The team finished 5th at the AAA World Championships.

*The class of 2001 (5) can be considered the most successful junior NT in recent times- in terms of individual achievement and the success of the team - the 2001 squad won the AAA Asian Championships. Members of the class of 2001 included CL Hu, YC Chen (Mariners), CL Lo (Rockies), CH Cheng (Blue Jays), & YH Yang (Hawks).

*The class of 2002 (5) was also very successful, winning a silver medal at the AAA World Championships. 2002 junior NT members included: CL Hu, WY Chen (Dragons), PH Keng (Blue Jays), SW Tseng (Indians), & CK Wu (Mariners).

*Unfortunately, I don't have the roster for the 2003 junior NT.

*From 2004, (5) junior NT members that went on to bigger and better things included: CH Chiang (Red Sox), TK Chiu (Reds), SA Kuo (Rockies), PY Lin (White Sox), & WW Lin (Twins). This team finished 5th at the World AAA Championships (with close losses to Japan led by Yu Darvish - who is now the best pitcher in the NPB and to the US)- although the outcome was somewhat influenced by Mother Nature.

*The 2005 junior NT's roster (3) included CH Chiang, CH Huang (Red Sox), and WW Lin. This team finished 3rd in the Asian AAA Championships.

*The 2006 junior NT (4) consisted of CH Lin (Red Sox), WW Lin, CH Chen (Indians), and YW Kuo (Reds). The team finished 5th at the World AAA Championships - but defeated Cuba, the US (who won the silver), and lost a close decision to the champs - South Korea.

*The 2007 junior NT won Taiwan's second AAA Asian Championship. The star players on this team have been mentioned before: Chih-Lung Huang (Tourney MVP - best ERA and member of the 2006 junior NT), Chia-Chu Chen (concensus top hitter on the '07 team and a member of the '06 junior NT), Kuo-Long Lo (most HR's and runs scored in the '07 tourney), Rong-Hao Hsieh (top pitcher in the class of '08), & Wen-Hao Cheng (one of the top pitchers in the class of '09). While the success of the team can't be questioned, the only knock on the majority of the top players listed above (except for Hsieh) is the fact that all of them are undersized (CL Huang, CC Chen, KL Lo, & WH Cheng all stand ~ 5'9"). With that said, all of the individuals listed above are talented and based on the trends of years past, one should expect a number of these guys to eventually sign and play somewhere overseas.

Ok, now let's take a closer look at another lesser-known member of the 2007 squad who turned some heads during his time on the international scene: Po-Ting Hsiao. (Hsiao has faced the US junior NT three times 1 2 3 in the past two years.)

With the success of Chin-Lung Hu (5'9") and David Eckstein (5'7"), it goes to show that size doesn't matter as long as you have the talent and the drive to succeed in MLB. The next undersized Taiwanese infielder to follow in Hu's footsteps is none other than Po-Ting Hsiao, a 5'8" ~ 150 pound SS/2B. The 18 year old (DOB 8/20/89) bats lefty and throws righty. Like Hu, the kid is an excellent defender (good range and a strong arm), has good speed, and has represented his country numerous times, playing on the 2007 Palomino World Series runner-up squad, the 2007 junior NT, the 2006 junior NT, and the 2005 youth NT. Obviously Hsiao will need to get stronger as he matures, but let's not forget that Hu's vitals were nearly identical (he was listed at 150 pounds) when he first came to the US. The biggest question mark facing Hsiao will be his bat (see above links vs team USA), although he did make solid contact when I saw him in action this past summer. It is important to note that Hsiao, as a 16 year old in the 2005 World Youth AA Championships, did collect 2 hits (he was 2-3 and scored the only run) against US starter Blake Beavan - the 2007 first round pick (17th overall) of the Texas Rangers.

Here's a vid I took of him at the 2007 PWS:

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