Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
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The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next.Mikie Mahtook
have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#16: Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, 22 years old
- Throws: Right Ht/Wt: 6’1″ / 230 lbs
- Signed: by the Twins as an International Free Agent in August 2012
- Acquired: along with Alexis Tapia in return for Kevin Jepsen
- 2015 Affiliate: Charlotte, HiA
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2017+
Hu’s 2015 Stats
Hu’s 2015 Fielding Stats
Hu’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter:@asd21104
- Played for Chinese Taipei at the 2014 Asian Games
- Fangraphs pegs his chances of making the majors at 58%
- Finished 2015 in style, striking out 9 in 8 IP with 5 hits, 1 BB, and 0 ER allowed
- Footage of Hu’s start in AAA can be viewed here with great slow-motion version
- Mike Radcliff of the Twins on Hu in 2014: “He’s got four established pitches right now, and good command, which is unusual for his level,”
- Was able to maintain a .192/.213/.231 line against over the last 6 weeks of the GCL season after making the jump to the U.S.
- At the time he was acquired by the Rays, he had only allowed more than 2 ER 3 times in 15 starts, an impressive feat
- There’s some division as to whether Hu will start or relieve in the majors, with a slight majority believing he’ll be a #4/#5 starting workhorse
On Hu, Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky had this to say:
"“Some scouts said they would have traded Kevin Jepsen for Chih-Wei Hu straight up, and that getting Alexis Tapia made it a steal. He was near the top 10, and is a really enticing prospect because of his stuff. He’ll have to prove himself as a starter though. He’s a little pudgy and short for some evaluators’ tastes, but he has his fans, and some project him to be a middle- to back-of-the-rotation type.”"
On the “pudgy” issue, I’d like to point out that Bartolo Colon, C.C. Sabathia, and David Wells were all “pudgy”, and all of them did alright. On the “short” issue, I have no idea how all-of-the-sudden 6’1″ is short, but I guess it’s a new era. I personally don’t think his physique is an issue other than to wait for him to gain the stamina he’ll need for a full season.
You may have an issue reading the majority of his posts without using google translate:
From our own fan sources (disregarding Google translate), the quote actually means:
“This is the last game of the season.
I’ll go back to Taiwan after three days, take rest for two weeks,
and start off-season training to prepare for next season.
I’ll put as much effort as I can in this game.
Keep fighting for next season.”
A telling quote about his success so far in the minors after he struck out 10 in a start:
"“Chih-Wei Hu never took a loss during his time in the Gulf Coast League last summer, nor did he receive one while pitching for Rookie-level Elizabethton earlier this season. Why should anything be different now that he’s joined Class A Cedar Rapids?”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Above-average Command and Control
- Four pitch arsenal
- Fastball that reaches 95 MPH but works best at 91-92 MPH
The most under-rated prospect currently in the Rays system, Hu’s acquisition was a major coup by the Rays front office. While Jepsen was a high-quality arm for the pen and rightfully cost the Twins a lot, he was never going to throw 200 innings in a season and wasn’t going to be a workhorse for the Rays rotation. Hu projects to do both, and to do so for a long time.
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What baffles me most when it comes to scouting is why so many command and control guys don’t get the recognition they deserve.Marco Estrada
from the Jays is the perfect example. If he threw 100 MPH and got the results he did in 2015, everyone would love him and he’d be one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball. Yet because he’s a command and control guy, he gets little recognition despite a 3.13 ERA, 1.044 whip, and AL leading 6.6 H/9 in 2015 – better than the stats put up byChris Archer
. And that’s why I believe Hu’s stock is still much lower than it should be.
Hu’s change up is very effective and will help him maintain strike out numbers as he reaches AA. He has the lower body strength to work long into games, and with his longest season yet behind him with 109 IP, he projects to exceed 140 innings for the first time. How well he adjusts to a lengthy season, after he wore down in 2015 in the second half, will determine how effective a starter he will be. If he can put up 6 innings or more per start, it may cement his role as a starter when he reaches MLB.
While we expected more from him after the trade from the Twins, the move and the increased workload took its toll and his stats took the hit. Still, there’s little doubt that with a strong spring, Hu will debut in AA and make a full season in Montgomery his challenge in 2016. He’ll join some other impressive arms and will work with Justin O’Conner, two things that should help him progress well and quickly.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see Hu reach AAA and put himself into contention of a rotation spot at some point in 2016 if the Rays need to dig deep into the system. With his success during his spot start in AAA, Hu displayed both poise and an ability to miss bats at a high level, both of which will put his name in good light with Rays decision makers.
With so many high-end arms in the Rays system, it’s easy to overlook Hu and forget how great his potential can be if he reaches his ceiling. While most peg him with a high of a 4th or 5th starter, there’s a decent chance that he exceeds that and develops well enough to be considered a great 3rd starter.
We believe in Hu and also expect him to jump into the Top 10 Rays prospects consideration by the time mid-season is through in 2016. If any pitch in his arsenal, particularly the change up, becomes an above-average pitch, he could exceed all expectations, even ours. We’ll be watching Hu closely in 2016 and hope he does exceed our already lofty expectations and wish him all of the best.