Friday, July 11, 2014

Minor league trip: Chih-Wei Hu

Chih-Wei Hu works against the
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. (Photo by
Linda Vanderwerf)
Thursday's starter for Cedar Rapids was Chih-Wei Hu, a 20-year-old right-hander from Taiwan making his first appearance in a full-season league.

Hu had a rough introduction to the Midwest League. The Kernels committed three throwing errors in the first inning. One of them was his; the others came from the third baseman and the left fielder. Hu gave up three runs on four hits and all those errors in the first inning, all the runs unearned.

And that was pretty much all he gave up. Hu followed that first inning with five scoreless frames, allowing just one more single and walking one. He struck out five.

In comparison to Ryan Eades, the pitcher the previous night, Hu didn't display the top velocity or the slow speeds that got Eades nine strikeouts. He also gave up fewer hard-hit balls. Hu pounded the strike zone and worked a full inning deeper into the contest.

And the Kernels somehow managed to win a game in which they committed five errors.

The Twins gave Hu a $220,000 bonus when they signed him in 2012, so they have a bit of an investment in him, but he isn't a truly high-profile prospect. Just eyeballing the Kernels roster, I can pick out at least seven pitchers who got bigger bonuses.

Which is fine. It takes a lot of pitchers for an organization to find one viable major leaguer. There's a ghastly attrition rate at this level of the minors.

Hu has a long way to go to beat those odds. Thursday was a step in that direction.

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