A little less than a year ago, the Indians turned a few heads when they agreed to terms with relief pitcher Masa Kobayashi. At 34 years of age, Kobayashi has had an up and down season that has become a little more volatile with each marginal inning pitched.
In 42 games prior to the All-Star break, Masa had an ERA of 3.05 – not too bad – while saving five games and allowing only five home runs. Since the break, Kobayashi’s ERA has ballooned to 10.32 and he has already allowed nearly as many long balls, giving up three in only 15 games.
But this hasn’t turned Mark Shaprio’s team off in terms of overseas prospects. But this time, thankfully, they went a bit younger.
“The Tribe once again dipped into the international waters and signed Taiwanese right-hander Chen-Chang Lee to a Minor League deal Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not announced.
A candidate for next spring’s World Baseball Classic, Lee will report to the Tribe’s fall instructional league in Goodyear, Ariz., this week, and he’ll likely begin his professional career at Class A Kinston next season.
Lee, 21, recently finished his junior year at Taipei Physical Education College and was a member of Taiwan’s national team that participated in the Beijing Olympic Games, going 0-1 with 2.00 ERA and 11 strikeouts in nine innings. “
Apparently, the Indians have been following Lee since he was 16-years old, similar to Fausto Carmona – who didn’t turn out all too bad. Though only 5’7″ and 175 pounds, Lee reportedly reaches the mid-90s with his fastball and throws four pitches extremely well. Tossing side-arm, it appears that Lee is destined for a bullpen role with the team, and could reach the bigs within a two-year window.
Tucked away in the Tribe’s report is that Lee is one of four international players that were signed. Third baseman Giovanny Urshella from Columbia, shortstop Jose Ozoria from the Dominican Republic and catcher Alex Monsalve from Venezuela are all 16-years old, and will be a part of the minor league program. But regarding Lee, let’s just hope that he is more Hideki Okajima than Byung-Hyun Kim.
Tribe ink Taiwanese hurler Lee [Indians.com]