Pirate infield prospect Tsung-Che Cheng impressing in Grapefruit League play

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

In big league camp after being added to the team's 40-man roster this offseason, infield prospect Tsung-Che Cheng has impressed for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Grapefruit League action

Every offseason each team across baseball faces decision pertaining to the Rule 5 Draft. Teams always find themselves deciding if they want to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, or leave them exposed and risk losing them.

For the Pittsburgh Pirates, one player they faced this decision with this past offseason was infield prospect Tsung-Che Cheng. Ultimately, the Pirates decided to add Cheng to the 40-man roster, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. Now, Cheng is in Major League camp with the Pirates and turning heads in Grapefruit League play.

The left-handed hitting Cheng started the 2023 season with High-A Greensboro before hitting his way to Double-A Altoona. While he struggled to find consistency with Altoona, it was still an overall strong season for Cheng. In 534 plate appearances across 123 games played at the two levels, the middle infielder hit for a .278/.353/.456 slash line with 13 home runs, 23 doubles, 10 triples, and 26 stolen bases.

So far in Grapefruit League action Cheng has 13 PAs. The 22-year-old is hitting for a .308/.308/.769 slash line through these 13 PAs. While he has struck out 5 times, he's also hit a pair of home runs. This includes a solo home run in Tuesday's 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

13 PAs is, of course, a small sample size. They have also come in meaningless Grapefruit League action. That said, while Spring Training stats mean almost nothing, the approach and results a hitter has at the plate do not always equate to stats but do matter. It has been encouraging to see a strong approach at the plate from Cheng.

Cheng is not going to make the Opening Day roster for the Pirates. However, he has certainly joined another trio of players who are impressing this spring and seizing the opportunities they've been given.

When the minor league season begins Cheng will be with either Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis. Regardless, if he hits the ball the way he did last season and the way he has this spring, he could certainly play his way to earning his first taste of MLB action this season.

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