- Full name Tzu-Wei Lin
- Born 02/15/1994 in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan
- Profile Ht.: 5'9" / Wt.: 180 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- Debut 06/24/2017
Organization Prospect Rankings
Lin represented a player with a diverse skill set--the glove and arm to play shortstop, speed, and good bat-to-ball skills--that the Red Sox signed him out of Taiwan for a $2.05 million bonus in 2012. The on- and off-field cultural transition proved long and challenging, with Lin's offensive passivity holding back his progression through the system. This spring, Sox officials challenged Lin to use some of the strength in his swing and to focus on hard contact even if it meant an uptick in swings and misses. The message took and set the stage for something of a revelation, with Lin earning a big league promotion after hitting .302/.379/.491 in 48 games to start the year in Double-A. He gave the Sox a midsummer spark, hitting .268/.369/.339 in 23 big league games before spending most of the season's remainder Triple-A Pawtucket. Defensively, Lin added impressive work in centerfield to already solid defense at short, second, and third. That versatility, in combination with high contact rates, the ability to shoot gaps with his liners, and good baserunning speed suggest a player who could have a lengthy career as a valuable utility man.
The Red Sox signed Lin for $2.05 million in June 2012, just before the imposition of the new international bonus rules took effect. He has generated mixed impressions from his early career performance in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2012 and at short-season Lowell in 2013. Many evaluators feel Lin has the defensive tools to be a shortstop, while simultaneously offering a line-drive, lefthanded swing geared toward the opposite field, paired with the plate discipline to hit for average and get on base. He also has the well above-average speed to make an impact once on base. Others see a player who hit .226/.312/.296 and stole just 12 bases in the New York-Penn League and appeared worn out by the end of the season. The latter group wonders whether Lin will ever be physical enough to withstand the physical grind of a full season. Thus his transition to full-season ball in 2014 at low Class A Greenville will offer an important indicator of his impact potential.
The Red Sox have several talented shortstop prospects, led by Xander Bogaerts and including Jose Iglesias, Deven Marrero, Jose Vinicio and Cleuluis Rondon. In the end, Lin could develop into a better all-around shortstop than any of them. After winning MVP honors at the 18-and-under World Championship in 2010, he nearly signed with the Yankees for $350,000 as a 16-year-old. That deal collapsed, however, when the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association threatened to block him from ever playing or coaching in Taiwan if he signed before graduating from high school. Lin waited to do so, then signed with Boston for $2.05 million in June, setting a bonus record for Taiwanese position players. The fastest runner in the system, he has plus-plus speed and perhaps more offensive upside than any of the Red Sox' shortstop hopefuls aside from Bogaerts. Though he's not big, Lin has a quick bat and an advanced approach for his age. He repeatedly squares balls up, though he sometimes drifts out in front on pitches. He won't have much power but has the ingredients to become a quality leadoff man. Reports on his overall defense and arm strength range from average to plus, though no one doubts Lin can stay at shortstop. He played in the world 18-and-under tournament again after the 2012 season, earning recognition as the event's top defensive player. If Marrero and Vinicio open 2013 as the everyday shortstops at Boston's two Class A affiliates, Lin could wind up at Lowell.
Minor League Top Prospects
The MVP at the 18-and-under world championships in 2010 when he was 16, Lin nearly signed with the Yankees that year for $350,000. Though New York followed the protocol agreement between major league teams and Taiwanese amateur players and MLB declared him a free agent, the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association threatened to ban Lin from playing or coaching in Taiwan if he signed before he graduated high school. The deal fell apart and Lin signed with the Red Sox this June for $2.05 million. Lee felt some soreness in his right knee after a few weeks in the GCL, and while there was no structural damage, Boston held him out of games for two weeks at the end of July. When at full strength, he shows a quick swing and an advanced offensive approach for his age. He's undersized and doesn't offer much power, but he's a plus-plus runner who could become an above-average hitter. Some scouts consider Lin an average fielder with an average arm, while others think he's a better defender. After the season, Lin played in the 18-and-under world championships again and was named the tournament's most outstanding defensive player.
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Boston Red Sox in 2013
- Chinese Taipei activated SS Tzu-Wei Lin.
- Chinese Taipei activated SS Tzu-Wei Lin.