Taiwanese teen pitcher Chen Po-yu on Wednesday signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the MLB club announced.
The 19-year-old right-hander received a US$1.25 million signing bonus, making him one of Pittsburgh’s highest-paid international amateur signees, according to a post on the MLB’s Web site.
Chen was scouted by the Pirates for three years before being signed to a deal, it said.
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Last year, the Taoyuan native pitched for Taiwan’s under-18 world champion team, starting twice at the U-18 Baseball World Cup in games against Panama and South Korea, earning a two-inning save in the gold-medal game against the US.
He clinched two wins with a 1.29 ERA during the tournament.
Chen, whose father Chen Ping-nan played professional baseball in in the CPBL from 1997 to 2000, was seen as a player with the impact of a second-round MLB Draft pick.
Photo: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY
“Po-Yu Chen is an exciting young pitching prospect who has been a prominent part of the Taiwanese national program and in international competition,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said in a statement.
“He has good size, moves well on the mound and has a quality pitch mix with the ability to keep getting better,” Cherington added.
“I enjoyed meeting Po-Yu this week in Pittsburgh and we look forward to working with him in the years to come,” he said.
Chen Po-yu told Taiwanese media that he was extremely excited to join the Pirates and thanked his family, especially his father, his mentor, for supporting him in pursuing a professional baseball career.
“I know that signing with the Pirates simply means that I was given an ‘entrance ticket’ to the MLB and a number of challenges and tasks are waiting for me ahead. I will do my best and work hard to become a better player,” Chen Po-yu said.
Chen Po-yu arrived in the US last week and is under home quarantine.
He is to officially start his professional career in the US next year.
Elsewhere in the league, Kevin Kiermaier on Wednesday belted a tie-breaking three-run home run in the fourth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays moved to within one win of the American League Championship Series with an 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees.
Kiermaier said his blast was the turning point in the contest which allowed the top seeded Rays to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
“To be quite honest I think my homer got us going and it snowballed from there,” Kiermaier said. “I knew what I wanted to do from the first pitch and I was trying to execute it.”
The Rays, who were designated the visiting team after being the “home” team for the first two games at the neutral site facility in Petco Park in San Diego, California, have won two straight games after they were outslugged 9-3 in the opener.
Tampa Bay’s other series appearance came in 2008, when they eventually lost in the World Series.
The series winner is to meet either the Oakland A’s or the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series starting on Sunday.
“We got guys who can do it. When their names are called on they respond. It was a fun night to do it,” Kiermaier said.
Charlie Morton pitched five solid innings and outfielder Randy Arozarena had three hits, reached base four times and had a home run in the win.
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton belted his sixth home run of the playoffs with a two-run shot in the eighth.
In other games on Wednesday, Cody Bellinger hit a home run and took away another with a spectacular over-the-wall catch in the seventh as the Los Angeles Dodgers put the San Diego Padres on the brink of elimination with a 6-5 win in their National League Division Series in Texas.
San Diego stormed back to score two runs in the ninth inning against Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen.
The Padres looked as if they were about to take the lead in the seventh inning. With Trent Grisham on second base, San Diego batter Fernando Tatis hit a towering ball to center field, but Bellinger leaped and reached over the outfield wall to snatch the ball and end the home run threat.
“That was huge for us. We scored some runs right after that so it was a bit of a momentum shift right there,” said Kershaw of Bellinger’s grab.
Also, Chad Pinder blasted a tying home run and Australian pitcher Liam Hendriks was stellar as the A’s avoided elimination by rallying to defeat the Houston 9-7.
Pinder went three-for-four and drove in four runs while Hendriks struck out four and allowed only one hit over three shutout innings to collect the win as the A’s pulled within 2-1 in the best-of-five second-round series.
“We’re trying to just get to the next day,” Pinder said. “That’s what this game was about. It was a scrap but we get to tomorrow and that’s all we can ask for.”
In a National League contest, Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud hit home runs to give the Braves a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins and put them on the brink of advancing to the final four.
The Braves, who have not won the World Series since 1995, could complete a three-game sweep.
The Atlanta-Miami winner would face either the Padres or the Dodgers.
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