There have been a few prospects worth watching this spring with the Milwaukee Brewers, but the most intriguing player has been pitcher Wei-Chung Wang.
Wang is a 21-year-old left-hander from Taiwan who the Brewers selected in the Rule 5 draft last December. By rule, Milwaukee has three choices regarding what to do with him once the regular season commences: keep him on the 25-man roster all season, offer him back to the Pittsburgh Pirates (who they took him from) for $25,000 or try to work out a trade to keep him in the Brewers’ organization.
Most people knew little or nothing about Wang when Milwaukee nabbed him, as he had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2011, didn’t pitch at all in 2012, then went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA in rookie ball last year. Yet, the Brewers saw something they liked and he’s looked the part of a solid prospect in his limited appearances.
He’s normally a starter, but all of his outings have been out of the bullpen this spring. While he may not always be facing the best competition when he gets in there, the results are still encouraging.
In 7.1 innings through Saturday, Wang has yet to allow a run, holding batters to a .192 average in five appearances. His spring WHIP is a minuscule 0.68 and he retired four batters on four pitches in his latest game. Out of the 37 pitches he’s thrown in the exhibition season, Wang has tossed an incredible 35 strikes.
That was one of the things the Brewers liked best about him — Wang attacks hitters and pounds the strike zone. In his 12 games (11 starts) last season with the Pirates’ rookie team, Wang carved out 47 strikeouts in 47.1 frames. Meanwhile, he walked only four batters and held the opposition to a .209 average.
Aside from the stellar command he’s shown early in his career, Wang delivers his fastball in the 92-93 mph range consistently. He also throws a great change-up, which reports say is his best pitch. His curveball is apparently a work in progress, but it’s believed it will be effective with time.
So to recap, Wang is a 21-year-old, left-handed starter with a 92-mph fastball and a plus change-up. Additionally, he attacks hitters with consistent strikes and rarely offers up free passes.
Is there any doubt this is a guy the Brewers need to hang on to?
Assuming the Brewers can’t work out a trade with the Pirates, they’d have to risk messing around with their MLB bullpen construction to keep Wang with the club all season.
From what I’ve seen and heard, that’s exactly what they need to do if it comes down to it. He may not get all the work he needs this season, but he can still bring value to the team and it may pay huge dividends down the road.
The most ideal situation would be if Milwaukee can offer something of value to Pittsburgh to make a swap. In that case, the Brewers would be able to send Wang to the minors to continue developing as a starting pitcher. It would also allow the big league club to have the bullpen set up exactly how they want.
What the Brewers try to do with Wang will be something to keep an eye on as we near opening day, especially if Wang continues to impress like he has thus far.