The Bradenton Marauders ended up with a pretty interesting rotation to close out the season, one that will be worth monitoring going forward to 2023 and beyond.
One of those players that we got a quick look at late in 2021 was Po-Yu Chen, an international signing out of Taiwan. This past year was his first full season in the system, after getting a late start in 2021 with the FCL and eventually Bradenton.
Since there isn’t much information available in the FCL, the thing that stood out the most from Chen was the fact he didn’t walk anyone across 26 innings.
So there was plenty of confusion when he got to Bradenton to end the year, as he walked 12 in 16 innings pitched that spanned four starts.
His strikeout rate also dropped by about five percent, so what exactly kind of pitcher were we to expect in 2022?
Pitching in Single-A all season at 20-years-old, Chen nearly broke the century mark in innings pitched (98.1), he posted a 4.58 ERA but also struck out 103 batters while walking just 36.
The walks that were so worrisome, were brought back down under 10%, and the strikeouts started to creep back up after more experience at the level.
So what changed? A four game stretch where his control struggled could be chalked up to an incredibly small sample size, especially considering he was jumping up a level at such a young age. The automated strike zone could also easily be an added external factor some young pitchers needed to adjust to.
Whatever it was, Chen was able to, and his 3.76 FIP (nearly a full run less than his ERA) speaks to that as well.
Chen is still an intriguing prospect, and one that’s hard to get a gauge on. He spins the ball as well as any other player in the system, with his curveball regularly recording 3000+ rpms. After throwing 86-90/91 on his fastball in his brief showing in 2021, he was back up in the low-to-mid 90s this past year.
One thing that will help Chen, especially going into next year, will be his 1.38 ground ball-to-fly ball rate in Bradenton, and his 0.73 HR/9.
Chen was an interesting case going into 2022, there was plenty to like when he got the call to Bradenton, but then didn’t show any of it.
He very much put that past him this past year and with the pitch metrics he has, is yet again a player to watch going into 2023.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.