Kuo Forcing The Issue

STATEN ISLAND, NY - The numbers were ho-hum for Fu-Lin Kuo while playing with Gulf Coast in his first two professional seasons in the United States. Now he's tearing the cover off the ball in Staten Island, leading the team with a .400 batting average entering Wednesday. Despite limited playing time, Kuo could find himself anywhere on the field more regularly should his torrid hitting continue.

"He's been locked in. It's a pleasant surprise," manager Justin Pope said before Wednesday's game. "Not sure what you were going to get from him in the beginning of the season, but I mean every night he's coming through with a couple hits [and] playing pretty good defense also. So we're going to try to find more ways to get him in."

The Yankees plucked the 18-year-old Kuo, now 21, from Taiwan and inked him to a deal following the 2009 season. His stats in both seasons with Gulf Coast nearly replicated each other, where his average hovered around the .250 mark. But that can be attributed to it taking him longer to adjust since coming to the States.

Consider this a potential breakout year for Kuo. Half of his twelve hits on the year are doubles, which speaks to his ability to gap the ball like many people have pointed out. Kuo also posted multiple hits in his first four games.

A solid Extended for Kuo might be playing a role in his unbelievable start. Pope certainly likes "everything" he's seen from him so far.

"He's been coming to the ballpark working hard, getting his work in in the cage, getting his work defensively, and staying in the game, being a gamer right now. So he's done a good job," the manager explained.

Hitting coach Ty Hawkins didn't work a whole lot with Kuo before the season began. He did though allude to some of the young hitter's better qualities.

"The limited time I was down there, he's got good balance, short swing," Hawkins noted. "We're just trying to work on just getting good pitches to hit, maintaining his balance throughout his swing."

The super-utility man has been flawless in the field, as he's been splitting reps between second and third base. Pope thinks there isn't a position Kuo can't play.

"Probably if you put some gear on him, he could probably catch too," Pope joked. "He'll probably play outfield too. So that's an avenue that we may come across. He can play first.

"He played first [base] a lot in Extended. Obviously he played second, third with us here. He can do a little bit of everything."

Transitioning to professional baseball in America is a challenging task for Kuo. It, however, pales in comparison to the cultural shift he's still experiencing. An important step for him was losing his personal translator after a couple of years.

"That's a credit to him to put the effort in to speak English, and feel comfortable on his own," Pope acknowledged. "Going out in the public and ordering food on his own. You don't feel like it's a big deal, but it is. It's nerve-racking."

Living in the melting pot of New York likely isn't impeding his progress, either. Kuo's face lit up when he gave his thoughts about the Big Apple.

"I like it here – big city, different than Tampa, Florida," Kuo admitted. "Here, I see more fans. I enjoy playing the game. I focus everyday."

It's tough to completely assess Kuo's game right now since he's played so sparingly. In his 31 plate appearances, Kuo has walked just once or yet to attempt a stolen base. Although with one career steal, speed isn't really his forte.

What Kuo has done is hit ‘em where they ain't. And for that reason, he's making it tough for the manager to keep him out of the lineup.

"We could definitely get him in there [more]. I want to get all these guys in here, get these guys AB's. Get them feeling comfortable," Pope said. "But definitely he's hot right now, so [we are] trying to get that hot hand in there."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"He's been locked in. It's a pleasant surprise,\" manager Justin Pope said before Wednesday's game. \"Not sure what you were going to get from him in the beginning of the season, but I mean every night he's coming through with a couple hits [and] playing pretty good defense also. So we're going to try to find more ways to get him in.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees plucked the 18-year-old Kuo, now 21, from Taiwan and inked him to a deal following the 2009 season. His stats in both seasons with Gulf Coast nearly replicated each other, where his average hovered around the .250 mark. But that can be attributed to it taking him longer to adjust since coming to the States.
\r\n
\r\nConsider this a potential breakout year for Kuo. Half of his twelve hits on the year are doubles, which speaks to his ability to gap the ball like many people have pointed out. Kuo also posted multiple hits in his first four games.
\r\n
\r\nA solid Extended for Kuo might be playing a role in his unbelievable start. Pope certainly likes \"everything\" he's seen from him so far.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been coming to the ballpark working hard, getting his work in in the cage, getting his work defensively, and staying in the game, being a gamer right now. So he's done a good job,\" the manager explained.
\r\n
\r\nHitting coach Ty Hawkins didn't work a whole lot with Kuo before the season began. He did though allude to some of the young hitter's better qualities.
\r\n
\r\n\"The limited time I was down there, he's got good balance, short swing,\" Hawkins noted. \"We're just trying to work on just getting good pitches to hit, maintaining his balance throughout his swing.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe super-utility man has been flawless in the field, as he's been splitting reps between second and third base. Pope thinks there isn't a position Kuo can't play.
\r\n
\r\n\"Probably if you put some gear on him, he could probably catch too,\" Pope joked. \"He'll probably play outfield too. So that's an avenue that we may come across. He can play first.
\r\n
\r\n\"He played first [base] a lot in Extended. Obviously he played second, third with us here. He can do a little bit of everything.\"
\r\n
\r\nTransitioning to professional baseball in America is a challenging task for Kuo. It, however, pales in comparison to the cultural shift he's still experiencing. An important step for him was losing his personal translator after a couple of years.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's a credit to him to put the effort in to speak English, and feel comfortable on his own,\" Pope acknowledged. \"Going out in the public and ordering food on his own. You don't feel like it's a big deal, but it is. It's nerve-racking.\"
\r\n
\r\nLiving in the melting pot of New York likely isn't impeding his progress, either. Kuo's face lit up when he gave his thoughts about the Big Apple.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like it here – big city, different than Tampa, Florida,\" Kuo admitted. \"Here, I see more fans. I enjoy playing the game. I focus everyday.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's tough to completely assess Kuo's game right now since he's played so sparingly. In his 31 plate appearances, Kuo has walked just once or yet to attempt a stolen base. Although with one career steal, speed isn't really his forte.
\r\n
\r\nWhat Kuo has done is hit ‘em where they ain't. And for that reason, he's making it tough for the manager to keep him out of the lineup.
\r\n
\r\n\"We could definitely get him in there [more]. I want to get all these guys in here, get these guys AB's. Get them feeling comfortable,\" Pope said. \"But definitely he's hot right now, so [we are] trying to get that hot hand in there.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

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