Cougars' Huang stellar in pro debut

D-backs' Taiwanese right-hander fans eight in 5 2/3 shutout innings

(Sean Flynn Photography)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | May 27, 2015 2:25 AM

While hype surrounded international prospects like the Angels' Roberto Baldoquin and the Red Sox's Yoan Moncada leading up to their professional debuts, Wei-Chieh Huang let his pitching do the talking.

Making his first Minor League start, the D-backs prospect struck out eight and worked around two hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings Tuesday night as Class A Kane County blanked Quad Cities, 3-0, at Modern Woodmen Park.

"It was one of the better starts out of our starting pitching staff this season. To throw the number of strikes that he did and minimize any damage was fun to watch," Cougars pitching coach Doug Bochtler said. "He was extra special tonight and it was one of those things where you look at the way he threw the ball well tonight, not necessarily the results, but the way that he did it and I expect nothing but great things from him after watching that."

Huang (1-0) retired all six leadoff batters, issuing a one-out walk in the first to Mott Hyde and allowing a one-out single to Ryan Bottger in the second before setting down the next 12 River Bandits.

"He repeated [his delivery] well and he has great fastball command down in the zone. Anytime you can do that, you're going to do well at this level," said Bochtler, who pitched for four teams in the Majors from 1995-2000. "He also did things of a guy with much more savvy, more years under his belt. He retired two guys on secondary pitches that were actually in the zone for strikes. And he had a good feel for reading the opponent's barrel and executing pitches based off what he saw."

After pitching at the National Taiwan University of Physical and Sport, Huang signed with the D-backs in July. The 21-year-old right-hander had been in extended spring training since April and Bochtler was impressed by the strides he made in that time.

"In Spring Training, it was a little bit quick for him when guys got on, but he was much more at ease with guys on and he realized what he had to do: execute pitches," the pitching coach said. "His times to the plate were excellent. He just executed pitches down, even when he was working with a guy on first base and he was trying to prevent that runner from stealing."

With two outs in the sixth, Huang plunked Jamie Ritchie, then allowed a single to Hyde before exiting.

While Bochtler said he doesn't know how long the 6-foot-1 hurler will stay in the Midwest League, he's encouraged by Huang's arsenal, especially the variance in his slider and curveball.

"He's a thin guy with an Asian delivery and the stereotypical pause after the step back," he said. "He has a high three-quarter arm slot and he throws four pitches for strikes. He has an above-average Major League changeup right now."

Huang's only been in the Cougars' clubhouse for two days, but Bochtler said he's fits right in with his teammates.

"He's a lot of fun, he's actually kind of a hoot. Always has a smile, is a good kid," he added. "He's always there to laugh with the guys as soon as it's translated for him. He'll throw some comebacks right back at you, and it's fun."

Huang's batterymate, D-backs No. 14 prospect Skylar Trahan, went yard for the second straight game with a solo blast in the eighth that Bochtler said went "dead into the jaws of" the wind. Cody Regis hit a two-run homer in the first.

Jency Solis secured Huang's first professional win -- and his first save of the season -- by working around a hit in the ninth.

Quad Cities starter Akeem Bostick (1-1) yielded two runs on three hits while fanning seven over five innings.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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