Wednesday, February 17, 2016

From the Prospect Handbook: Chih-Wei Hu

Last summer the Twins traded Chih-Wei Hu, a right-handed pitcher from Taiwan, and another minor league arm to Tampa Bay for Kevin Jepsen. Jepsen fit an immediate purpose for the Twins, and he figures to be a crucial component in their 2016 bullpen. Hu put up good numbers for Fort Myers in the Florida State League and then spluttered when he shifted to the Tampa Bay affiliate in the same circuit,

Hu did not make the Twins Top 30 (or 31) list last winter. He's No. 16 on the Rays list in this year's Handbook. Baseball America grades him as a "50 High" -- the 50 is on the scouting scale of 20 to 80, and the "high" refers to his risk. (No pitcher in A ball is going to have a risk rating lower than "high.") 50 High is the same grade BA gives Twins pitching prospects Kohl Stewart, Steven Gonsalves and Nick Burdi, who rate as the Twins No, 8, 9 and 10 prospects.

The grade suggests that Hu, had the Twins retained him, would rank somewhere between No. 8 and No. 16 in the Twins system. Nos. 14 and 15, Taylor Rogers and J.T. Chargois, are graded as "45 Medium," meaning that their ceilings are a bit lower but they are more advanced, but it's still an equivalent grade; No. 16, Adam Brett Walker, is a 45 High, and Hu would clearly go above him.

My subjective guess is that Hu would have been put lower in the Twins group -- somewhere with Rogers and Chargois rather than with Stewart and Gonsalves. The Rays have a good and deep farm system; prospects with an equivalent grade to Hu can be found as low as No. 22 in the Tampa Bay list.

I liked Hu when I saw him make his Cedar Rapids debut in 2014. While trading him for Jepsen was a certainly the right move given the Twins situation last July and remains a defensible move, there's a decent chance the Twins will someday wish they'd given up somebody else in that deal.

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