Each Wednesday timberrattlers.com will countdown the top 20 seasons by a Timber Rattler until #1 is revealed on August 29th. This week: #18
Yung Chi Chen 2005
.292 batting average, 77 runs, 147 hits, 27 doubles, 7 triples, 7 home runs, 80 rbi's, 15 stolen bases, .416 slugging percentage, .339 on base average
A native of Taiwan, Yung Chi Chen signed with the Mariners as a free agent in January of 2004. Prior to joining the Everett AquaSox, Chen went to Athens, Greece to represent Chinese Taipei in the 2004 Summer Olympics. He has become a fixture in the Chinese Taipei lineup over the years, appearing in many international competitions, including the World Baseball Classic. He went on to hit .300 for Everett and led the Northwest League with 25 stolen bases.
The 21 year old Chen opened the season as the starting third baseman for a talented infield that featured Oswaldo Navarro, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Asdrubal Cabrera. He also played some at 2B after the mid-season promotion of Cabrera and handled both positions efficiently. He was a steady influence in the lineup as well, collecting 147 hits and scoring 77 runs, both of which put him in the top 10 in Rattlers' history. He had 50 multi-hit games, including getting three hits ten times. But Chen was at his best in key situations, and he is one of only seven Rattlers to drive in 80 or more runs in a season. He joined fellow infielders Tuiasosopo and Cabrera (and four other Rattlers) in making the Midwest League All Star Game that was managed by Wisconsin skipper Scott Steinmann. Yung Chi left the team in late August to join Chinese Taipei for the 2005 World Cup, where he was named the All Star 2B. His bat was missed by the Rattlers in the playoffs, who lost in the Midwest League Championship Series to South Bend in five games.
Chen split the 2006 season with Inland Empire and San Antonio, hitting .324, tops among Mariners minor leaguers. He was selected to participate in the All Star Futures Game held in Pittsburgh. Yung Chi started the 2007 season with Triple A Tacoma, just a phone call away from making his Major League debut, but Chen will miss most, if not all of, the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Previously on the countdown:
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.