Red Sox' Lin Overcomes Slow Start
BOSTON—A growing area of strength for the Red Sox system has been the emergence of skilled, athletic outfielders who can affect the game in multiple ways. Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish and Ryan Westmoreland all rank among the top prospects in the system.
Boston also hopes that beneath that surface, other players with similar all-around skills will soon make contributions. Among the most promising of that group might be center fielder Che-Hsuan Lin.
The early part of Lin's 2009 season was disjointed. He played for Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic, serving as the team's leadoff hitter and center fielder, collecting three hits in seven at-bats. Assigned to high Class A Salem after that, he got off to an abysmal start, hitting .136/.209/.169 in April. But he showed plenty of promise over the rest of the season, hitting .283/.373/.393 in the final five months.
On the whole, the Sox viewed his year as a strong one considering Lin was just 20, showed command of the strike zone (he had 66 walks, second-most in the system) and excellent center-field defense. He hit just seven homers in 2009, but the Sox believe the 6-foot, 180-pound Lin, who signed in June 2006, has the potential to grow into more power.
"It's probably a little more of a line-drive stroke right now. He's got plenty of power to hit home runs right now. It's just hasn't translated yet," farm director Mike Hazen said. "And obviously with impact defense and the chance to get on base, that's an extremely interesting package."
Lin, who fulfilled his Taiwanese military service requirement in December, was invited to take part in the Red Sox' rookie development program in January, a sign of his standing within the organization. However, the MVP of the 2008 Futures Game is unlikely to reach the majors before 2011.
He will compete for a spot in Double-A Portland in spring training. If he builds upon the conclusion of his 2009 campaign, he will add to the depth of outfield talent.
• Mike Cather, who was credited with playing a significant role in the development of several pitchers at Portland in recent years (including Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz), earned a promotion to major league advance scout in 2010.
• The Red Sox will have the No. 20 pick in the 2010 draft thanks to the Braves' signing of Type A free agent Billy Wagner. That will be Boston's highest pick since 2003.