Challenges maketh man
When you ask baseball fans in Taiwan who’s the first Taiwanese to play in the MLB system. Many will tell you it’s Dodgers 陳金鋒 (Chen Chin-Feng) in 1999. However, that’s not the case.
The Taiwanese MLB dream began with the pioneer 譚信民 (Tan Shin-Ming) in 1974 with the San Francisco Giants, Tan paved the path for all future Taiwanese baseball players to enter the the world’s best baseball system.
The 2nd wave of Taiwanese to MLB system
It wasn’t until 28 years later, 陳金鋒 (Chen Chin-Feng) became the first Taiwanese made it to the big league and achieved the 43 years of MLB dream. Since 1999 there has been 70 warriors decided to pursue the MLB dream and only 13 have succeeded and made it to the show (19% rate of success).
We’ll talk about the 13 Taiwanese MLB players and also some fun facts about them. Today will be part one of this on-going series which we cover 5 players.
|NAME||NAME||AGE||POS||Signed||Signed||MLB Debut||MLB Yrs|
|林哲瑄||Lin Che-Hsuan||28||CF||2007||Red Sox||2012||1|
|林子偉*||Lin Tzu-Wei*||23||SS/UT||2012||Red Sox||2017||1|
Name with * sign means they’re currently in the MLB/ MiLB system
Taiwan Hero: 陳金鋒 (Chen Chin-Feng) 1st Taiwanese in MLB
Chen is widely known by Taiwanese for his contribution in the national team as the clean up hitter. He was signed by the Dodgers in 1999, and made his MLB debut on 2002/09/14. His first hit, which is also the first hit for all Taiwanese was a single in 2005/07/04.
His MLB career wasn’t easy journey, despite having solid Triple-A stats and during the spring training. Chen only received 22 at bats over the span of four years, leaving a career AVG of .091. Yet he being the pioneer of the first positional player to challenge MLB has led the best talented youngsters of the next generation to follow his path.
The Gifted Pitcher: 曹錦輝 (Tsao Chin-Hui) Highest singing bonus
Tsao, without a doubt is the most talented pitcher in Taiwan baseball history. He received a record breaking signing bonus (Still Taiwan’s highest record) of 2.2 million USD when he joined the Colorado Rockies.
His fastball has a maximum velocity reaching 161kph (100mph) and his gift shined as Tsao was listed #24 in the BA top prospect in 2004 and listed #2 in the RotoWorld list.
The Phoenix: 郭泓志 (Kuo Hong-Chih) Dodgers lowest ERA all times
Kuo got the nickname “The Phoenix” due to his baseball journey and how he deals with his arm problems as he underwent 7 big surgeries throughout his professional career. Yet each time Kuo always rise again from the ashes and find his way back to the mound and striking out batters with his 157kph (98mph) fastballs.
2010 was definitely his career year as he broke Dodgers ERA record. The previous record was set 127 years ago, yet the Taiwanese hard throwing lefty wrote down his name in Dodgers history book as the new ERA leader of all time. He achieved a 1.200 ERA in 60 innings, along with 73 SO. At the same year Kuo was nominated for setup man of the year award and was selected in the All-Star Game.
The Ace: 王建民 (Wang Chien-Ming) AL 2006 wins leader
The best Sinker, 2006 wins leader, the Ace of the Big Apple, Tiger Wang… you name it. Wang took New York by storm in 2006 season as he pitched a back to back 19 wins season for them. Wang earned himself the honor of the American League annual wins leader in 2006, and came #2 in the Cy Young award and #9 in American League MVP.
His weapon, one of the nastiest sinker at the time, generates tonnes of ground balls as batters are hard to get good contact to the ball. Batters often complained that hitting Wang’s sinkers was a lot like hitting a bowling ball.
Infield Artist: 胡金龍 (Hu Chin-Lung) A position where defense counts
If we say 陳金鋒 (Chen Chin-Feng) won the big league ticket by his outstanding batting skills, then 胡金龍 (Hu Chin-Lung) definitely picked another path but with the same destination.
His good defense skills (wide range and strong arm) and his position as SS has earned him more chances in the big league from others. Yet health problems in his arms and shoulder has shortened his MLB career. Currently Hu is serving at Fubon Guardians (CPBL) as DH and LF.
Next one up in the big league?
It is pretty exciting so see that there are 7 youngsters that’s only a few steps away from turning the MLB dream into reality. In the list below, all of them had previous MLB experiences except Tseng, Chang and Chang. What’s even more exciting is that many of them are still young in their early 20s and have plenty of opptunitty to grow and develop and crack the big league roster.
Though during recent years, the competition level of CPBL has soared up. This has directly influenced the overall player salary and thus young prospects have decided to stay in Taiwan and consider Taiwan baseball league to be a good alternative. Yet still, the MLB dream will always still be there and will never end.