Only three Taiwanese pitchers have ever played in Major League Baseball.
The Astros are hoping that righthander Chia-Jen Lo becomes the fourth after they signed the 22-year-old for a bonus believed to be $250,000, making him the first player from Taiwan in franchise history.
International scouts told BA that the Angels, Red Sox, Twins, Royals and Athletics also had interest in Lo. According to scouts, Lo’s best pitch is his fastball, which sits at 89-93 mph but has touched 95-96 mph at times. He mostly works off his fastball, though he has a show-me curveball and a recently-added splitter. He has average command and profiles as a middle reliever.
"A year ago, we talked about the importance of establishing a presence on the Pacific Rim in order to take advantage of another significant talent stream," general manager Ed Wade said in a press release. "At that time, we tasked Glen Barker with overseeing our scouting in Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea and Australia. Glen has worked tirelessly to get us up and running on the Pacific Rim, and today’s signing of Chia-Jen Lo is a very significant indication of the work that Glen has done."
Lo pitched this summer for Taiwan in the Olympics, where he allowed one run in two innings of relief. He has pitched in several other international competitions dating back to the 2004 World Junior Championship, including the 2008 and 2006 World University Championship and the 2007 World Port Tournament. Lo will likely begin his career in A-ball in 2009.
The other three Taiwanese pitchers who have pitched in MLB are Chien-Ming Wang, Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-Hui Tsao.
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