The subject of this version of the Abbott-Costello routine is Chin-Lung Hu, a native of Taiwan whose last name is pronounced "Hoo" thus leading no doubt to many variations of the same theme. But let it be known that this Hu is at shortstop, not on first and at the position he plays, he proved so adroit in his first year that one scout seeing him for the first time pronounced him "an acrobat" for his nimble footwork and hands.
What's more ,though he he's only 5-9, 150 pounds, he generates such bat speed that he displays surprising power as he proved this day.
He was scouted by Pat Kelly, the Dodgers" Asian Rim coordinator who followed him during his time with the Taiwanese National Junior team for which he hit .418. When he hit .474 with four home runs in 38 at-bats in the 2002 World Junior Championships in Canada, Jeff Schugel, then international scouting director, got his name on a contract. This made him the third Taiwanese player in the system following outfielder Chin Feng Chen (first-ever from there to play in the big leagues) and lefthander Hong Chi Kuo.
After reporting to the extended spring camp, he was assigned to Ogden, Utah, in the Pioneer League. Culture shock? "Not really," he maintains. The language gives him problems but his host family there helped him a great deal since he spoke only Mandarin Chinese. What bothered him the most were the long bus rides and adjusting to playing every day.
The pitchers, he found, have different motions than he was used to seeing as well as more velocity but he prospered at the plate, finishing with a .305 average that included three home runs. It was a showing impressive enough to earn a ranking among the better prospects in the organization.
After the season he returned home to enroll in college. More than incidentally as a student he has a draft deferment in a nation of compulsory military service. But he also played in the World Championships in Cuba for he's now a member of the Taiwanese national team.
He's learning English but still feels more comfortable using an interpreter for interviews, in this case Vincent Liao, an assistant in Asian Operations. As for food, he devours sushi and steak but answers with an emphatic "No!" when asked if he has developed a taste for pizza.
He'll probably play at either Vero Beach or, more likely, Columbus this season. And, who knows, maybe while adding to his English, he can learn a legendary comic routine. Hey, Abbott! This Hu can play
Hu's on first? No, shortstop
LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories
Kershaw VS. Hendricks NLCS Game 6Kershaw VS. Hendricks NLCS Game 6
LA Dodgers InsiderSaturday at 1:01 PM