The Taiwanese Terror: Po-Yu Chen
|Photo Credit: Focus Taiwan dot tw|
In the fall of 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates were coming off a rather dismal season where they went just 19-41. These were the good ole times of people clamoring for Kumar, and the #TankForKumar train was at full capacity! (Ahhhh, the good ole days.) Fast forward to October 7th of 2020; GM Ben Cherington had found one of the best international signings of the year in Taiwanese youngster Po-Yu Chen. Chen's 1.25 million signing bonus marked one of the highest amateur international signings ever.
A lot of people might ask how in the world did the Pirates find this kid?! Well, Chen's portfolio of work is already an impressive one, with being a main cog in the 2019 U-18 World Championship Chinese Taipei team. He started two games that year and faced Panama and Korea. He also pitched in the gold medal game, where they beat the U.S. It wasn't just the national games where they found him; the Pirate's very own Fu-Chun Chiang (Pirates scout) spent a large amount of time with Chen's family and fostered a relationship with not only Chen but his family.
Currently, Chen is a 35+ FV on FanGraphs, and he ranks 49th on the top Pirates prospect list. Standing at 6'2 187 Lbs, Chen may fill into his frame a bit more and could see a velo spike in doing so. As of now, Chen has four plus pitches (Fastball 40/50, Curveball 45/50, Slider 40/45, Changeup 40/50); the early report by FanGraphs on Chen mentioned, "He's advanced for what is, in essence, a high school prospect but not as projectable."
Since Chen was signed in October of 2020, the 2021 season would be his first professional season in any capacity. June 28th of 2021, Chen was assigned to the Pirates FCL Black squad, and from all accounts, he has been tremendous. In four games, he has amassed 16.0 innings, 10 hits, 2 Runs (1 earned), 0 BBs, and 23 Ks!
Of course, the 23 punchouts jump off the board right away, but the one stat that intrigues me the most is no walks have been given up. In a league where youngsters are wild, and I mean like wild wild, Chen has shown pretty good command. Other than 2 HBP's and 1 WP, Chen's command has been brilliant. This may explain FanGraph's rating of a 25/55 in the command category. Control looks very projectable, and to get a little informal here, ME LIKEY! (Sorry back to formal Cody)
Obviously, I'm not going to stand here on my soapbox and tell you this kid is going to win 15 Cy Young awards or multiple WS MVPs, but one has to be encouraged by the young man's start to his professional career. A little side note before I end this, Chen will not turn 20 years of age until October, so I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed in the FCL for the remainder of the year.