Tseng takes Cubs top pitching honor

The Chicago Cubs have named 19-year-old Jen-Ho Tseng Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2014 as the Taiwanese right-hander went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 games, helping lead Kane County to the best record in baseball and a MWL title.

Last summer, Jen-Ho Tseng inked a $1.65 million dollar deal as part of the Cubs July 2 International spending blitz. This year, he was one of the best arms in the Midwest League and the Cubs’ organization honored the 19-year-old with their Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

His stats are impressive but so was his maturity on the mound and command of his pitches. In 19 games, 17 of them starts, the Taiwanese native went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 105 innings. He sported a BB/9 of 1.3 and fanned 85, good for 7.3 K/9.

With international experience under his belt, including the World Baseball Classic, the Cubs put Tseng to the test, sending him to Kane County for his first pro season.

“He’s done excellent and handled it really well,” Kane County pitching coach David Rosario said when asked about the right-hander’s first year of pro ball. “He showed good consistent command with his fastball (92-94), plus command with his breaking ball and his change-up is excellent.”

In his pro debut on April 8 against Fort Wayne, Tseng gave up eight hits and three runs in five innings—that would be the exception not the rule. Tseng allowed three or fewer earned runs in 16 of his 17 starts and surrendered two or fewer walks in 15 starts.

After giving up six runs to Beloit on June 29 in four-plus innings, Tseng tossed a complete game three-hitter with 7 K in the 3-1 win. He fanned a career-high eight on June 14 at Beloit in five one-hit innings, held Clinton to a single in five relief innings on July 6, and worked six shutout innings in a one-hit outing on July 18 at Lansing. His only loss of the season came on July 30 at Wisconsin, allowing a run over seven innings. MWL hitters had a slash line against Tseng of .204/.241/.308 and finished with a 0.87 WHIP.

In the playoffs, Tseng held Wisconsin to two hits over six innings in the Cougars opening win at Wisconsin. He only needed 67 pitches to get through the outing, a trademark throughout the season.

In game one of the MWL finals. Tseng matched his career-high with eight punchouts in five innings in the 4-3 win. He allowed three runs in the first two innings, and then shut down the Captains allowing six hits and a walk.

Tseng, who turns 20 on Oct. 3, will head to High A next season and could end up in Tennessee by the end of the season. Of all the young arms in the system, the Cubs are likely to fast-track Tseng over any of the others because of the maturity he showed in 2014 as well as the international experience.

Kyle Hendricks earned the award in 2013 and Nicholas Struck, who’s now pitching in the Dodgers organization, was the 2012 winner.

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