It is an exciting year for CPBL fans, as more and more pitchers of the new generation are starting to of shine. Some young pitchers have shown tremendous performances and thus earned themselves the tickets to the starting rotation. In this article, I will introduce 4 rising stars (one from each team) with their player profiles and some of the fun facts about them.
Lamigo Monkeys’ Future Ace- 林樺慶 (Lin Hua-Ching)
On the 6th April 2017, Lin threw a quality start (6.1 inning, 3 ER) against the Chinatrust Brothers. This is the fourth CPBL season for the 22-year-old.
Video of Lin’s start against Brothers on 6th April 2017
Lin was selected by EDA Rhinos in 2013 mid-season draft. However, the deal was not finalized thus Lin went to Kai-Nan University for another year. Surprisingly, he managed to improve the velocity of his fastball from 84 mph to 90 mph under the advice of coach 郭李建夫 (Kuo-Lee Chien-Fu) while he was in Kai-Nan University.
This had put him in a better position in the coming year mid-season draft. In 2014, he was picked and successfully signed by Lamigo Monkeys. At the moment the young RHP is positioned to be the team’s #5 SP with the plan of developing Lin into the next Ace of Lamigo Monkeys for the following ten years.
Lin has a 2-seamer tops at 90 mph. A curve ball at 75mph and a changeup at 80 mph. Apart from that, he also have sinker in his repertoire, a new pitch he learned from NPB Chiba Lotte Marines’ Ishikawa Ayumu (2014 Rookie of the year & 2016 ERA leader) during his fall camp exchange program with Chiba Lotte Marines.
Fireball Phoenix from the ashes- 江忠城（Chiang Chung-Cheng）
Chiang is a very special pitcher that I wanted to focus on. He has an outstanding fastball that attracts fans, but what caught my sight is his injury history, and how he managed to return to the mound.
This has to be traced back to high school. At that time, Chiang was the Ace of the team. Eager to win games, Chiang threw 432 pitches over 27.2 innings during the 10 days tournament. (4 starts and 1 game as reliever) The severe overage of his arms and with the lack of pitching-protection-mindset in Taiwan high school baseball nearly destroyed this kid’s promising future.
It was a relief to see him successfully joining the league after university (picked by the Chinatrust Brothers in the 2014 CPBL draft). His main weapon is his fastball. It used to reach maximum of 94 mph, but now at an average of 89 mph. He also has a slider that is able to get strikes.
Despite possessing the pop on his fastball and action on his slider to make him one of the good SP in the league, Chiang is struggling with his control. This has also limited his chance to last long innings, he was only able to reach 2.2 and 3.2 innings in his last 2 starts. Having said that, I am still watching to see how far Chiang could go as I have strong confidence that he will be able to survive in this league by his strong will.
The Boy with a Big Shot- 黃亦志（Huang Yi-Chih）
Huang boomed into fame in Game 4 of the 2016 Taiwan series when EDA Rhinos (Former team for Fubon Guardians) was 1:2 behind in the series. Huang has been named the starter against the offensive power house Chinatrust Brothers. It was a great pressure the young Huang and the organisation, yet Huang delivered an outstanding game (5 innings with only 1 ER) thus brought back the victory that paved way towards Rhinos winning the 2016 Taiwan Series.
Video: Huang’s 7 IP, 1 ER on CPBL opening day
In 2017, Huang earned himself a role as the #4 starting pitcher in the Fubon rotation. He is currently 5.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP over 18 innings after 3 starts. The young RHP has a 2-seamer at 86 mph with great movements. This makes the batter unable to hit the ball well. He also has a 80 mph changeup and a 75 mph curve ball. If his changeup is in good qulity that day then he is capable of making strikeouts. But overall, Huang is a ground ball pitcher. The good defense of Guardians infielders backs him up as his strong support.
The Best Lefty of the New Generation- 林子崴（Lin Tzu-Wei）
Lin built up his fame through international tournaments as he took part all the way from U18, U21 then to 2015 Summer Universiade. His outstanding pitches drew not only attentions from the media but also from CPBL fans.
Lin was the overall #2 pick in the 2015 CPBL draft by Uni-Lions with the signing bonus of 177K USD, which makes him the second highest for pitchers in CPBL history. – Note: (2015 #1 overall pick was the former MLB Red Sox outfielder 林哲瑄 Lin Che-Hsuan by Fubon Guardians)
With such an impressive résumé comes with high expectation from fans, Lin had a tough year in 2016. He seemed to have troubles adjusting towards the long season in professional games, which reflected in his decrease of his fastball velocity. He used to have an average of 86 mph, but dropped to 81. However, he managed to overcome this obstacles. In 2017, he delivered a quality start against Chinatrust Brothers with 8 strikeouts to announce that he is ready for the new season. In his two starts, Lin has a compiled stats of 3.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP with 12 K over 11 innings. Without a doubt, he has shown his dominance towards the game.
Video: Lin strikes out the league’s best batter 蔣智賢 (Chiang Chih-Hsien)
Lin has a 86 mph fastball, along with a 76 mph changeup, and a 75mph knuckle curve in his repertoire. He isn’t a power pitcher who relies on his fastball, but his control on changeup and knuckle curve get strikes from batters, and this had made it his best weapon. In my opinion, Lin is the best lefty among the new generation in the league.
It is definitely a good sign to see the young generation are finding themselves a place in the league, showing great talent and performing high quality pitches. Apart from the four listed pitchers that are worth-noticed, there are still plenty of prospects which are not mentioned yet playing important roles in their team. Watching these kids grow and shine is also an enjoying part of watching baseball, isn’t it?