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Taiwanese phenom Tzu-Wei Lin close to starting pro career with Red Sox

06.28.12 at 11:22 am ET
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The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Tzu-Wei Lin, an 18-year-old shortstop out of Taiwan, on a signing bonus of $2.05 million, a major league source confirmed. The deal will not be official until Major League Baseball concludes its standard background investigation into the prospect, but he is expect to start his professional career in Fort Myers in the near future.

Lin is a burner, described by one scout as a plus-plus runner (a 7 on the 2-8 major league scouting scale, in which 5 is average) who on multiple occasions went from home to first in under 3.9 seconds. In addition to his pure speed, he is also viewed as a player with good baserunning instincts. Defensively, he has excellent hands at shortstop and the arm for the position.

“He definitely profiles there,” said one international evaluator. “There’s no reason to move him. This kid’s a true shortstop.”

Though small (perhaps a shade under 5-foot-10, he weighs in at about 160 pounds), he has an all-fields line drive approach and shoots the ball into the gaps. He also has a good sense of the strike zone and swings at strikes, with what the evaluator called an advanced feel for his age regarding the pitches he can drive. He was scouted against top amateur competition in Taiwan and abroad in international tournaments, where he showed the ability to hold his own against good pitching.

(Baseball America’s Ben Badler noted that Lin played at the World Junior Championship in 2010 — a tournament that featured Red Sox 2011 first-rounder Blake Swihart, among many others — and won tournament MVP honors while hitting .607/.656/.907 in 32 plate appearances.)

There was plenty of competition for Lin’s services. The Red Sox’ record of developing Taiwanese amateur talent — most notably, outfielders Che-Hsuan Lin and Chih-Hsien Chiang — played a role in convincing Tzu-Wei Lin to sign with the team, though of course, the size of the bonus did not hurt. Still, the Sox are an organization with a developed infrastructure for helping a player navigate from amateur status in Taiwan to the majors, something that carried appeal in the signing process.

Indeed, Lin’s $2.05 million bonus is identical to the $2.05 million received by Red Sox first-rounder Deven Marrero, who, like Lin, is a Scott Boras client. Indeed, the lower levels of the Red Sox farm system is now loaded with shortstops who are represented by Boras, as Lin, Marrero (currently in Lowell), High-A shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Greenville shortstop Jose Vinicio (who signed in 2010 for a $1.95 million bonus) are all clients of the same agent.

Because the agreement is in place and has already been submitted to MLB, the $2.05 million bonus — assuming that the deal is finalized, something that is considered a formality — will not count against the Red Sox’ $2.9 million international spending limit for the 2012 international amateur free agent period that commences on Sunday.

News of the $2.05 million agreement was first reported several weeks ago by multiple Taiwanese news agencies and confirmed in a subsequent report by the Boston Globe. SoxProspects.com reported yesterday that the deal was done.

Read More: Che-Hsuan Lin, Chih-Hsien Chiang, deven marrero, jose vinicio
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