Tang was the Tigers first foray back into the Pacific Rim since the days of Masao Kida, and it is safe to say we all remember how that turned out. Despite increasing activity over the last few years, Tang was the first signing success for the organization.
He had played at the National Taiwan Sport University prior to signing his first professional contract, and had become known on the international amateur circuit where the Tigers were first exposed to him.
After signing in April 2008, the Tigers quickly brought Tang stateside for his professional debut, assigning him to the Gulf Coast League. In 38 games for the GCL Tigers, Tang managed only a .222 average, but did manage seven doubles, two triples, and one home run. He also stole three bases while only being caught once.
As with many Asian players, Tang is very fundamentally sound in every aspect of the game. His defensive skills are excellent, demonstrating great jumps off the bat, and near flawless routes to the ball. He has the instincts to handle any of the three outfield positions, though he profiles best on a corner. His speed is only a tick above average, but he uses it well in the outfield. His arm is strong, but not exceptional, and he is accurate on his throws.
Tang is a heady player, with an outstanding feel for the game despite his relative youth. He positions himself well, learns quickly, and has a desire to improve in all facets. He has taken quickly to instruction and changes brought about by playing in the States, and many scouts believe he has a knack for getting things done on the field.
At the plate, Tang offers a quick stroke from the left side, with some gap power. He has a tendency to get out on his front foot too often, sapping his strength, and leading to many soft hits. Work during the fall instructional league and spring training has gotten him to sit back a bit more and drive the ball. He understands the strike zone, but his ability to make contact on pitches out of the zone prevents him from developing a more patient approach. His hit tool and his power are both below average, but there are some scouts that believe he could hit for a decent average as he refines his game against more advanced pitching.
Tang is probably a fourth outfielder at best, given his modest power and speed, but he does provide enough defense and outfield versatility, to be a useful 24th or 25th man at the Major League level, if he catches some breaks along the way.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
Tang had not had any injury issues until this spring at West Michigan. While advancing from first to second on a routine double-play grounder, Tang was struck in the face by the infielders throw. He suffered several fractures to his face, requiring surgery, and sidelining him for what is likely to be the remainder of the season. The injuries are unlikely to impact his ability to play baseball, but there are some concerns that this injury could make him a bit gun shy.
Things were not going particularly well for Tang with West Michigan this season, as he had stumbled out of the gates to the tune of a paltry .195 average through 21 games. He continues to attack too many balls outside the strike zone, knowing he can make contact, but failing to recognize that not all contact is good contact.
Tang should be back and ready for full action by spring training at the latest, and he may be destined for a return trip to the Midwest League in 2010. His offensive approach and results will have to improve dramatically for him to get chances at higher levels, and the injury-shortened 2009 season won't help with that development.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.