When it comes to ranking the OFers in the Sox farm system, the names that come to mind are: Ryan Westmoreland, Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, some OTMers will think about Reymond Fuentes but most of us will forget about who is IMO, the 2nd best OF prospect in the system in term of ceiling, his name is Che-Hsuan Lin. so why's Lin's name doesn't come to mind when we're ranking the prospects this year? I think that some of us look to his .260/.351/.361 line and think of him as a non-elite prospect . Well, we're wrong!
I'll try in this post to show how great this kid is and why you should mention him in the same breath as Kalish and Reddick (Westy on the other hand lives on the planet of awesomeness).
First of all, when it comes to evaluate prospects, the slush line avg/OBP/SLG doesn't count that much, let me show you why:
Player A: .229/.311/.363 at age 20 in A+
Player B : .248/.343/.391 at age 21 in A+
Player C: .397/.475/.574 at age 20 in his sophomore year in college
- Age advancement
Let's compare Lin's age to his competition.
- In 2008 season, he was 19 years old in the South Atlantic League (average age 21.5).
- In 2009, he was 20 years old in the Carolina League (average age 22.8).
- In 2010, he will be 21 years old in the Eastern League (average age 24.3).
You can notice, looking at those numbers, that not only he's well ahead on the age advancement scale but he's also increasing the age difference on a yearly basis.
Unlike Kalish and Reddick, Lin projects to remain as a center fielder, so let's start by speaking about his defense:
Defense: Here's what Soxprospects.com has to say about his defense:
Exceptional glove and range in center to go along with plus plus arm strength and accuracy. One teammate commented positively on Lin's range, stating that it looks like Lin is "gliding on roller skates" in the outfield.
He was elected by the Red Sox as the 2008 minor league defensive player of the year so what we have here is elite fielder at a premium defensive position and here's the numbers: TotalZone gives him 14 Runs/150 which rates as very good to outstanding.
The arm: He's considered to have the best arm in the system and here's what his manager has to say:
Salem manager Chad Epperson called Lin's throwing ability "a luxury."
"He's capable of impacting a game in so many ways," Epperson said. "You watch center fielders and most of the time they're guys who get a good jump off the bat, good runners who are able to close gaps a hair above average.
"But you don't see them possess the ammo he does with his arm. And he loves to show it off. He's spun around on just the back foot alone and thrown with accuracy."
I will add that Che-Hsuan Lin led Carolina League outfielders with 15 assists and seven double plays. The closest competition is Frederick's Matt Angle and Myrtle Beach's Jason Heyward, with nine assists each. Several outfielders are tied for second with two double plays.
The speed and athleticism: SP.com consider him as a "spectacularly athletic centerfielder likely would have been a supplemental first round pick in the 2007 draft had he been eligible" with a "plus plus speed and good intelligence on the base paths". He stole 26 base this year
but his success rate was around 70% compared to last year 82.5%success rate.
Plate discipline : Lin has an extremely advanced approach at the plate. He walks at a good clip (12% BB rate) and he doesn't strike out very often (13.4% K rate) His BB/K rate (0.88) was the third highest amongst Sox players in full season ball. In fact, his BB/K rate was the 5th highest in the Carolina league.
Hitting abilities: Here's some scouting reports that I gathered about his hitting abilities " Lin can drive balls and he's got a compact and fluid swing that generates good speed to the point of contact" He has shown an ability to hit line drives at a healthy clip: 21.4% this year.
Lin is showing a terrific improvement in his strike zone judgment shown by his K and BB ratios:
In 2007 his BB% was 8.7%, 10.4% in 2008 and an outstanding 12% in 2009!
His K rate has been declining trough those years too: 20.8% in 2007, 14.9% in 2008 and 13.4% in 2009. I
think it's clear that's what we call progress!
In terms of hitting the ball, his declining GB% (47% this year after 53% last year) and increasing LD% (at 21% this year,which is elite to 15% last year) are showing a developing hitting skills.
Here's what Chris Mellen from Soxprospects.com has to say about those improvements:
Early in his career, he didn't handle off-speed pitches all that well, but that has seemed to be improving each season and he worked the strike zone much better last season.
He's improved his pitch recognition and approach a lot during his time in the organization because it was pretty raw during his first season. Lin's a hitter that has a little more maintenance in his mechanics and that is where he can sharpen things more, and in the process improve the consistency in squaring balls up.
Just before I finish I wanna note that it's been documented that Lin started the season injured (back spasm after participating in the WBC) and when you take out his messy April production, you'll have a : .288/.379/.401/.780 - with a 61/55 BB/K ratio.
I have to add that he's been unlucky with his BABIP (.293) vs his batted ball data and when adjusted his triple line would be: .322/.404/.439.
I hope you take my boy into consideration when you're voting for the Top 15 prospects. He deserve it!