The Pittsburgh Pirates have added their 22nd international signing since the start of July 2nd signing period. We had mentioned just over a week ago that they were favorites to sign Zheng Zong-Zhe, a 17-year-old lefty hitting shortstop from Taiwan. He officially signed this afternoon, and don’t shoot the messenger, but he will be known as Tsung-Che Cheng. The version posted in the article is the Chinese translation.
Cheng is an exciting prospect on offense, defense and the bases. He’s not a big player, listed at 5’8″, but the video below shows that he can already drive the ball a long distance. He’s a line drive hitter, who makes consistent contact, with above average speed (described as elite) that helps him take extra bases. He is very athletic, and has nice range and a steady glove already, with enough arm to stay at shortstop. His bonus is just north of $300,000.
Cheng turns 18 later this month and he will begin his time with the Pirates in the Fall Instructional League this September. In the meantime, he will play for the 18U Taiwan team in Busan, South Korea next month.
Here’s a highlight video (there’s also one in the link at the top)
— CPBL STATS – ♥️ #95, Mina, LIKE (@GOCPBL) June 29, 2019
UPDATE: Photo from today’s signing at Pirate City
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.