Overview - Taiwan has a professional league (China Professional Baseball League) but that league is not assisting Taiwan in the formation of the World Baseball Classic tournament roster. That team is put together by the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTPA). Lots of drama goes on between these two. The CPBL left it up to the four teams in the CPBL whether they would allow their players to participate. Only one team, the Lamiga Monkees did not allow their players to participate.
The Taiwan professional league is considered the third rated professional league in Asia behind Japan and Korea. One has to wonder where all those talented Little League stars played once they grew to adults. Despite all those Little League World Series victories their best finish in the International Baseball World Cups was in 1984 when they won the silver medal, finishing second to the power house Cuban team. They won bronze medals in 1986, 1988 and 2001 and finished with a respectable 93-77 record.
In 1992 when baseball was introduced into the Olympics Taiwan won the silver medal, again finishing behind the gold medal Cuban team. They lost to the United States team in pool play 10-9 but finished in the top four to qualify for the medal round, upsetting the Japanese team 5-2 to go to the gold medal game. The United States team played Cuba in the other semi-final match and lost 6-1. Japan would trounce the United States 8-3 to win the bronze while Cuba pounded Taiwan 11-1. They were embarrassed in the last Olympics in 2008 losing to China 8-7. That loss virtually knocked them out of being in the final four and competing for a medal. After the initial medal in the first Olympics Taiwan has not won a medal since.
In the Asian Baseball championships Taiwan has surprised in the last three events by taking the silver. The last time they won the gold in this event was back in 2001. They are usually considered the third team behind Japan and Korea.
In the three World Baseball Classics they have yet to medal. In 2006 they failed to advance past the first round, with South Korea and Japan the two teams advancing ahead of them. The only team they were able to conquer was China. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic they lost both their games in the double elimination tournament, including a losers bracket game to China that closely followed a loss in the 1988 Olympics. Many of the players on the two rosters were later implicated in a gambling scandal in the CPBL with some of the players indicted. They were forced to qualify for the 2013 WBC, did so and advanced past the first round for the first time when a three way tie between Taiwan, Netherlands and Korea eliminated Korea from advancing. Taiwan lost both their games in a double elimination second round, the first to Japan and the second to Cuba.
In the WBSC 2015 Premier 12, which is composed of the top 12 countries in baseball, but usually lacks major leaguers, Taiwan just missed advancing to the second round. They finished tied with Puerto Rico for fourth place and Puerto Rico advanced as a result of their win over Taiwan in pool play.
Current World Ranking - Taiwan is currently ranked fourth in the world in baseball, much of that fueled by their performance in international youth tournaments. Of the other teams in their pool Korea is ranked third, the Netherlands is ninth and Israel is ranked 41st. The 41st ranking by Israel does not reflect that the WBC will have a number of major league baseball players of Jewish descent on their roster, so this will be a very competitive pool.
Pitchers - Hung-Wen Chen, Kuan-Ju Chen, Yun-Wen Chen (DPP), Shao-Ching Chiang, Sheng-Hsiung Huang, Chun-Lin Kuo, Che-Hsuan Lin, Chen-Hua Lin, Kuo Hua Lo (DPP), Fu-Te Ni, Wei-Lun Pan, Chia-Hao Sung, Ming-Chin Tsai, Ching-Ming Wang
Catchers - Ta-Hung Cheng, Kun-Sheng Lin
Infielders - Chia-Hao Chang, Yung-Chi Chen, Chi-Hung Hsu, Chin-Lung Hu, Chih-Hsiang Lin, Chih-Sheng Lin, Yi-Chuan Lin, Sheng-Wei Wang
Outfielders - Cheng-Wei Chang, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Kuo-Hui Kao, Guo-Long Luo
More Designated Pitchers Pool - Ping-Hsueh Chen, Hung-Cheng Lai, Yen-Cheng Lu, Cheng-Hao Wang, Chien-Ming Wang, Wei-Chung Wang, Chun-Chieh Wu, Chien-Fu Yang
Strength - They have a lot of pitchers in the designated pitchers pool but it is unclear what that quality is. Fu-Te Ni once played for the Detroit Tigers in the major leagues and he will probably be their ace. Another ex-major leaguer is the ex-Yankee star Chien-Ming Wang but he appears to be listed among those pitchers available if Taiwan advances past the first round. Three minor league pitchers on the staff are the Indians Ping-Hsueh Chen and Shao-Ching Chiang and the Brewers Wei-Chung Wang. Chen and Wang are in the designated pitchers pool available for the second round. Of the pitchers on the roster the best appear to be the other Ching-Ming Wang (3.49 ERA) in the CPBL and Chia Hao Sung from the Japanese NPB Rakuten Eagles (2.44 ERA).
The big power bats will belong to outfielder Kuo-Hui Kao who hit 34 homeruns in the CPBL and drove in 104 runs and infielders Chih-Shing Lin (.337, 34, 107) and Chih-Hsien Chiang (.402, 30, 104). The CPBL appears to be an offensive league with a lot of high ERAs and explosive batting averages. Teams in the CPBL are allowed to fill their rosters with three foreign players and those are usually pitchers, watering down the local pitching talent for the CPBL to back end rotation starters or long relief pitchers.
Weakness - The CPBL tends to be a league measured at between High A and AA. Many ex-major leaguers who can’t play in Japan drop down to Korea. If they fail in Korea their next step is Taiwan. Only time will tell how these players from the CPBL, mixed with Taiwanese players from the Japanese and United States major and minor leagues fare against the best in the world. Pitching will probably be their down fall and an inability to hit the major league slider.
Prospects to Watch - Wei-Chung Wang may be the best prospect, but he isn’t really a prospect anymore since he spent one whole season as a Rule V pick with the Brewers. Shao-Ching Chiang got 27 starts in Low A as a 23 year old but with uninspiring numbers.
Expected Finish - The Korean team has been hit by a number of injuries so it is possible for Taiwan to advance. Myworld believes they will fall short in a very competitive pool.