Red Sox pitching prospect Chih-Jung Liu dazzled in his second start of the season for High-A Greenville on Tuesday night.
Matched up against the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox affiliate), Liu scattered just two hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work at Fluor Field. The Drive went on to defeat the Dash, 5-4, courtesy of a walk-off home run from Stephen Scott.
Liu took a perfect game into the fourth inning before yielding a leadoff walk to Cuban sensation Oscar Colas that was followed by a one-out single off the bat of Bryan Ramos. The right-hander ultimately retired 14 of the 18 batters he faced while finishing with a final pitch count of 75.
Of those 75 pitches, 55 went for strikes. According to Chris Clegg of Fantrax, Liu sat at 94-95 mph with his fastball and topped out at 97 mph with the pitch while also mixing in a slider, curveball, and changeup. The majority of his swings-and-misses came on either the fastball or slider, per Clegg.
Through his first two starts of the year for the Drive, Liu has posted an ERA of 3.00, a WHIP of 1.00, and batting average against of .156 across nine total innings pitched. The 23-year-old has struck out 12 of the first 36 batters (33%) he has faced in 2022 and has walked four of them.
Liu, who turned 23 earlier this month, came into the 2022 campaign regarded by Baseball America as the No. 32 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 13th among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the Taiwanese-born hurler as an international free agent coming out of Tainan City in October 2019.
With the 2020 minor-league season being wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu did not make his organizational debut until last July and only has 15 career starts as a professional under his belt.
So, even though he has been with the Red Sox for nearly two years, there is still a lot of intrigue when it comes to what Liu’s development as a pitcher could look like. He is currently listed at 6-foot and 182 pounds, so there could be room for additional growth physically. Whether he will pan out as a starter or reliever in the long-term has yet to be determined.
(GIF of Chih-Jung Liu via the Greenville Drive)