Editor’s Note: Today, the Orioles agreed to terms with Chen Wei-Yin.
Chen Wei-Yinhas a game that has slowly built on command and locating pitches. He shows the ability to throw a curveball, splitter/forkball, change up, and a fastball that will likely sit in the 89-90 mph range in the major leagues.
His fastball showed some movement when I saw him in 2009 and something the reports say wavers back and forth; at its best it has late action that is tough to square up on. He shows pitchability and works the entire plate, and both sides equally against right handed and left handed batting.
Mechanically, he shows little to no issues that would pose command or injury issues in the future. He requires no posting fee to sign and will not command nearly as large of a contract as his counterparts. He is left handed and could be a useful bullpen pitcher if the starter role does not fit well. Compensation would justify moving him to the bullpen similarly to Koji Uehara. Other teams might strictly indicate he is a bullpen arm and a team willing to give him a shot in the rotation might have a leg up in signing him.
Wei-Yin does a poor job hiding the ball in his delivery and it might pose a problem against quality hitting that can sit on the off-speed stuff and still catch up to his offerings.
He needs his pitches to move constantly because his stuff cannot live with straight as an arrow life. I witnessed a lot of the ball riding high in the zone a few years back and he cannot live in that fashion and have success in an AL park, even though recent reports indicate he is working lower in the zone on a constant basis.
He is left handed, can throw multiple pitches, his arm speed can last deep into outings, and his off speed pitches sit enough off the fastball that he should profile a No.4/No. 5 type arm. Watching him pitch, he reminds me of a young Jimmy Key, although maybe tick below with his fastball velocity.
If he struggles as a starter, he could see an uptick in his arsenal and move into the bullpen. It will need to be seen if he has the frame and strength to turn around back to back outings, but they can let that be know when or if he has too move away from the rotation.
Wei-Yin faces the same uphill battles as every other Asian pitcher making his way from the NPB.