Neal Huntington has made yet another splash into the international market signing Taiwanese LHP Chi-Hung Cheng to a one year contract. He will be reporting to A ball this coming season. While this isn't a huge signing, it is making a name for the Pirates in the Taiwanese market, a previously untapped region for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cheng is a former Blue Jays minor leaguer. Here is a link to his Baseball Cube stats.
Huntington is still in the process of hiring scouts in Europe, Asia, Australia, Taiwan, Korea and several other countries.
This signing follows the recent signings of 3 players assigned to the Venezuelan Summer League Pirates affiliate and the signing of the two Indian pitchers who were winners of India's reality show dubbed Million Dollar Arm.
The story of the Indian players is a nice one, a story that will likely produce little on the field in the future for the Pittsburgh Pirates outside of having a good Indian following and a nice introduction to a previously untapped resource across MLB. While the Indian players may not have deep baseball knowledge nor history, their long running passion for cricket could translate well into baseball skills.
The signing of the Indian pitchers is a nice story because anyone who reads this blog, or any of the ones around baseball, has likely dreamt at one time or another of playing baseball professionally. I am happy for both Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, they have an opportunity to live out the dream of millions of baseball fans. I wish them good luck and hopefully they can make a name for themselves in the Pirates organization.
It has been a welcome change to the Pirates that Huntington is tapping the international market. Sooner or later these small steps could become much larger for a franchise in need of an infusion of talent. The international market is a great place to start since it is a free market that is not restricted by the draft process MLB uses for U.S. talent.