As we enter the top 20 of my Boston Red Sox prospects, we find the player I am probably higher on than anyone else. I have not seen Tzu-Wei Lin on any top 20 lists; in fact, he is often not even in the top 30, but I really like him. Lin comes very much in the same mold as Jose Iglesias — an incredible defensive shortstop with countless questions at the plate.
He is a little small, standing 5-foot-9 and struggling to weigh in at 160-pounds soaking wet, but his fast twitch ability in the field is second to none. He has as much range as any shortstop in the lower minors, but that becomes a slight issue at times. Because he is able to get to so many balls his footwork on the easier plays can get lazy causing some of his throws to sail on him. When he does get his feet in position he has a plus arm for the position.
At the plate his best tool is speed. He projects as a potential 25+ steals guy if he can get on base. His batting average at Lowell in 2013 was just .226 with an on-base in the low .300s. His batting stance and motion is very similar to Ichiro, a left handed bat with a big leg kick and a swing that can carry him out of the box. That is the last time he will ever be compared to Ichiro, but if he starts to get the bat on the ball with more consistency he can certainly hit in the mid-to-high .200s. His slugging percentage is currently below his on-base, and that might never change. He will forever be a slap singles hitter, but he is already bordering on big league ready defensively.
Even if his bat tool never reaches the level of a starter — which I doubt it will — he could become a late game defensive replacement up the middle that is key for championship teams. His ceiling might not be as high as most on my top 30 countdown, but he has one of the best single tools as anyone on it.