FanPost

The Taiwanese God Of Walks

Lately the name of Che-Hsuan Lin has been been discussed a lot in the comments boards with different opinions and I thought, as the self proclaimed President of Lin's Fan Club, I need to write a lengthy post (again) about him, I'll try to be neutral during that analysis, mixing in numbers and scouting reports.

First of all, let's try to get a picture of what the skills set is, starting with the approach at the plate:

Year

Age

League

League Average Age

BB%

K%

2007

18

GCL-NYPL

-

8.7%

20.8%

2008

19

SAL (Low A)

21.6

10.4%

14.9%

2009

20

CL (High A)

22.8

11.7%

13.4%

2010

21

EL (AA)

24.3

13.3%

11.6%

 

Maintaining your strengths against a better competition is good, improving those strengths make you special! Let's crunch some numbers

Eastern League OBP Leaderboard (Minimum 400 PA)

1. Tagg Bozied   .402

2. Darin Mastroianni   .390

3. Che-Hsuan Lin   .386

4. Ray Chang  .384

5. Nate Spears  .380

I don't know about you but this is pretty impressive to me especially when you consider that Tagg Bozied is 30 years old, that Mastroianni is 24, Chang's 26 and Spears is 25. He's the youngest player in the Top 20 (The 2nd youngest is New Britain's OF Ben Revere who's 22). With 72 BBs, he ranks also 3th in the EL, trailing Mastroianni and teammate Nate Spears (25 years old). He's also the only hitters of all those I mentioned to have a 1+ BB/K, how he does it?

Lin knows the strike zone well and rarely chases bad pitches.  Very good at working himself into hitter's counts.  Doesn't get himself out and has no problem taking a close pitch.  His batting eye is right up there with Kalish.  Lin has the bat control to spoil pitches and makes pitchers consistently throw him strikes to get him out.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Chris Mellen at SoxProspects.com

I also need to mention that 57.1% of Lin's strikeouts are from the K looking category. So there you have it: His skill set at the batter box is centered around patience and high contact rate...and he kept improving those skills!!!

Let's talk about the defense and the arm and who's better than close freind and former teamate Ryan Kalish to give us a scouting report?

"He is unbelievable," said Sea Dogs outfielder Ryan Kalish, who has played with Lin the past two years in Class A. "If it's a nice, easy, routine ball, he makes it look so smooth.

"If someone is running on him, that's when it's fun. Then you get to see his arm, which is unlike anything you've ever seen."

Lin has been voted:

*The fact that the Sox FO gave the award to Che-Hsuan this year is pretty important IMO and here's why: Our OF prospects start playing with the same defensive OF alignement as the big club when they reach AA, rewarding CHL with a second award as the best densive player in the Farm system is a hint that they are confident that he can play the position at the ML level, or maybe this is just me trying to read too hard between the lines!

Those awards are given using inputs from scouts and managers (For the first 2) and minor league instructors (for the 3rd) but even advanced stats loves his work with the leather too as TotalZone (the only advanced MiL defensive metric at our disposal) rated his defense as a +12 runs for last year. On a personnal level, I listen to Portland radio cast at least 4 times a week and I can tell you that the words "smooth", "He makes it look so easy" were mentioned regulary by Mike Antonellis when a ball was hit his way

Centerfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was recognized as the "Best Defensive Outfielder" in the poll.  Lin, 21, has a strong arm and a knack for getting great jumps on balls out to the outfield.  The native of Hwa-Lian, Taiwan has made just three errors in 107 games this season for a .990 fielding percentage.     Inside The Clubhouse with Mike Antonellis

 

Defensively, he showed his range on a couple of balls hit his way that were more difficult plays than he made look.  Chris Mellen scouting report
"The instincts and the jumps in the outfield go beyond his raw speed," said Hazen. "I mean, he's off and running when that ball's hit. I think when you watch these games, he'll probably have a chance to make a coupe of circus-style catches and show you what we're talking about."      Sox Farm Director Mike Hazen

  Basically, he plays defense like Drew...at a more demanding OF position.

Let's talk about that arm a little bit so here's Ryan Kalish again:

 

Various minor-league scouting reports, including Baseball America, consistently have judged the arm of Ryan Kalish to be average. Kalish has one idea why that might be.

"To be honest, I’ve been with Che-Hsuan Lin for a while," said Kalish, referencing the Double-A outfielder widely believed to have the best throwing arm in the organization. "Having him out there downplays everything else. He’s so spectacular. … It gets really overshadowed by an arm like that because he’s so special."

 

Last year he led Carolina League outfielders with 18 assists and an infielder-like 7 double plays and this year, it's business as usual as he led all CFers in the Eastern League with 14 OF assists and 3 DPs and came 2nd in OF assists among OFers with 15 assists :'(

Now let's talk about the hitting part of Lin's game:

Year

ISO

LD%

2007

.091

12.7%

2008

.111

14%

2009

.101

22.1%

2010

.068

18.5%

So... um...yeah Power is not part of his game...yet:

  • He has the patience and the pitch recognition (Elite BB rate)
  • He has the bat speed and the contact skills (Very low K rate and even lower swinging K rate)
  • He's a spectaculary gifted athlete:

Che-Hsuan Lin would have played linebacker in high school if he grew up in Walpole instead of Hualien, Taiwan. He’s an impressive looking athlete. They had the players pulling sleds with weights on them today and he was effortlessly sprinting. 

Peter Abraham after seeing Lin in the Annual Development Rookies Camp

 

 

  • He has a terrific make up:

Lin, like any minor-league hitters, has had his ups and downs. But when Lin has had his ups and downs, even an 0-for-4 game or two, he’s had a tendency to go straight to the cage and the film room to try to fix the flaw that cost him the hits he expected.

This my freinds is what I call a solid foundation: When he came to the system, CHL was a raw athlete with a lot of moving parts in his swinging mechanics, those flaws were mostly exposed by opposing pitchers off speed stuff. He worked on them and his swing now is very different from where he used to be:

Everything looks pretty good mechanically and he is a lot more quiet in the box than he was when he entered the system.  Lin looks like he still needs to be more consistent with keeping his hands back as he commits and using his quick wrists to do the rest.  There isn't much lower body in his swing right now as he is mostly upper body.  That, to me, is the area of improvement as to how his power is going develop, mostly consistently driving line drives into gaps to produce extra base hits.

Chris Mellen

I, for one, prefer reading a scouting report about a prospect in which it's written; "He needs to use his lower body when swinging" or "needs to be more agressive in hitter counts" than reading one saying "has tremendous power potential but needs to work on his pitch recognition" or "needs to be more selective at the plate": It's easier to fix the first flaws then the 2nd ones, don't you think? And you know what? This is what happening with Che-Hsuan as he's been tweaking with his stance.

On July 22nd Mellen has this observation:

Lin has opened up his stance slightly and has his back elbow a little bit higher.  Looks like he has made some adjustments at the plate.

And the results are showing up: Since July 1st, Lin has 245 PA, his line is .303/.416/.395

BB%: 13.9%

K%: 10.2%

LD%: 21.6%

I'll leave with that quote of Mike Hazen:

"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," said Hazen. "We do think in time [it will come]. And obviously with impact defense and the chance to get on base, that’s an extremely interesting package."

He fields like Drew, Walks like Youk, Throws like Beltre and I can't wait till he starts hitting  like Pedroia!

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