Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Wei-Chung Wang seemed like a long shot to make the Opening Day roster for the Milwaukee Brewers, despite being a Rule 5 selection in this offseason. After initially signing with the Pirates out of Taiwan for $350,000 in 2011, the lefty was forced to sign a new contract after a major elbow injury was revealed as well as the need for Tommy John surgery. Because of the new contract, he was eligible for the Rule 5 draft unless he was placed on the 40-man roster, which of course did not happen.
The 21-year old only appeared in 12 games as a professional to this point, all of which came in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013. He compiled 43.1 innings in 11 starts before working a four-inning relief appearance in the finale. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound pitcher finished with a 1-3 record and 3.23 ERA, and allowed just 37 hits with only four walks while striking out 42. Interestingly enough, Wang does not look like a LOOGY – in fact, he excelled against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .171/.203/.260 slash. Of course, even for a strong debut season, it was only against GCL competition.
However, the Brewers decided he was worth the selection and gave Wang an opportunity to compete for a roster spot this spring. With a three-pitch arsenal that includes a low-90s fastball, very good curveball and average changeup, Wang impressed. In 11 innings spread over seven outings, the lefty allowed three earned runs on 11 hits, with a .268 batting average against, and struck out six. He did not walk a hitter.
Time will tell if Wang can hang in the big leagues for the entire season, or if he will be offered back to Pittsburgh at some point, but the Brewers have awarded him the opportunity to start this season as a Major Leaguer.