Monday, June 18, 2007

Greater Dynasty: Yankee or Ming

There's not much info out there about the newest Yankees from China. The Chinese Baseball League is really a startup and while the Chinese have had baseball in some respect since the 1800s, it never took off like it has in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. That's changing and it can only be good for the sport. It's probably too early to expect any players from China to do anything Stateside, so you have to wonder why the Yankees would have two young kids come over to play in their system. I think there are a couple of good reasons:

1. The Yankee brand gets first dibs.

You can't overestimate the impact of this. Chien Min Wang is Taiwan's favorite son, and that extends to any Chinese who care about baseball as well. The Chinese government considers Taiwan a part of its domain, wrongly in my opinion, but there are some cultural points that connect the nations and Wang is a part of that from a baseball perspective. Now the Yankees have two legitimate sons of mainland China in the system and the publicity that goes along with it.

2. They are only 19.

If the scouts say these kids have potential, and the scouts are any good, it's better to bring them to the minors to grown in a bigger and more challenging environment to see how far that talent will take them. If they have Major League tools, albeit very raw ones, the only way they have a chance to put them to the test is by playing against the world's best in the minor leagues. If they stay in China, they won't get the coaching or the level of play that would best stretch their potential. At 19, they stand a chance to grow and fill some needs in the farm system down the road, even if they eventually wind up playing somewhere like Japan.

3. What if....

This is kind of an extension of the other points. If either of these players has been scouted with any kind of real thoughts about stardom, we could get great value before anyone else has cracked the market. That's a stretch, but there has to be at least a 1% chance that a Major League contributor has been mined from a group of raw and unrefined Chinese players. Let's hope against hope that this is true, although we probably should expect nothing.

Here's what I dug up on these players:

Zhang Zhenwang - catcher, Tianjin Lions #22
19 years old, 5'11", 176 pounds

Zhang played for the Chinese entry to the 2006 Konami Asia Cup, won by Nippon Ham and MVP Yu Darvish. He didn't play in any of the 3 games. China was blown out in each. Before that, he was a member of the Chinese WBC team. He played a half inning as a defensive replacement in the final game against Taiwan, in which they were eliminated. He never batted. In his most recent game against Shanghai, he batted 9th and went 0-2 with a walk.

His favorite player is Daisuke Matsuzaka.


Liu Kai - LHP, Guangdong Leopards #28
19 years old, 6'1", 172 pounds

It's tough to find anything on Liu, as he's not as experienced internationally as Zhang. I see that his favorite player is SoftBank Hawks pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi. He may have struck out 16 in a game against Shanghai recently. I checked both Chinese and Japanese news stories about it, so I think it's right. The team is the one part I'm not so sure about. Whichever team it was, 16 Ks is pretty sweet.

In his most recent appearance for Guangdong, Liu closed out an 8-6 victory with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed a single and two walks during those innings against Beijing on Saturday.

That's all I have now. When I find more, I'll let you know. New storm's a brewin' folks. Good to be out ahead of it.

See you tomorrow. Go Yankees!!!

11 comments:

番薯 eltonic said...
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EdWhitson said...

Mike,

Great job on the 2 new additions from mailand China. I have not seen anything close in the press here in NY - more or less everyone just regurgiated (sp) the Yankees release. In any event, one day, there will likely be a major talent from China, and I would think we would have the inside track to sign him. In the meantime, I'm just hoping we pick up some of the international FA from Latin America come July 2nd, I believe. - Ed

番薯 eltonic said...
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