Over the past few seasons, the Chicago Cubs have shown their deep investment in Asian prospects through multiple free agent signings that have landed many foreign born players on the Boise Hawks roster.
Most notable of these recent acquisitions was Korean born short stop Hak-Ju Lee, who played in Boise during the 2009 season and is now rated the number 92 prospect in minor league baseball by Baseball America.This season the Hawks may have received their best overseas prospect yet in 19-year-old Pin-Chieh Chen from Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
Despite being considerably slower than his counterpart Kyung-Min Na — signed by the Chicago Cubs in 2010 out of Seoul, Korea — Chen boasts a well-rounded skill set, while Na showed deficiencies at the plate.
Through six games with the Hawks, Chen is leading the team in batting average at .440 and is second in both slugging and on-base plus slugging to Paul Hoilman.
Chen is very comfortable in centerfield and shows good range while making only minimal tracking mistakes. He also has an above average arm, and has yet to commit an error thus far in 2011.
On June 23, Chen started in centerfield over Na, who started the majority of the 2010 season in center for the Hawks.
Though short season Class-A is the only level Chen has amounted to thus far in his short career, he should expect continued promotion in the Cubs organization over the next year. Na was promoted as high as Class AA Tennessee (majority of top prospects), with little success at the plate at each level.
Overall, it can be seen that Chen is an incredible all around prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization with plus hitting and fielding ability and above average speed. Though the season may have just started, Hawks fans are running out of time to see Chen in action.