Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Three Surprising Seasons Thus Far

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Tsung-Che Cheng

Let me explain why Tsung-Che Cheng is here. It’s not unexpected that he’s having a good season. Cheng posted quality numbers in 2022, including an outstanding stretch from June through the end of the year. But there have been some factors in his game that are standing out that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who was expecting him to do this.

That specific thing is hitting for power. Cheng is not known for his power. Even during his hot streak, his ISO only clocked in at .147, which while not terrible, isn’t great either. Cheng, who stands at 5’7”, 155 pounds has never been known to be a power hitter, nor have the raw strength to become one.

But Cheng is batting .288/.396/.554 with a .423 wOBA, and 151 wRC+. Cheng’s 14.9% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate are both improvements from last year. Power wise, he’s slugging just over .550 at .554, with an isolated slugging percentage of .266. Keep in mind, Endy Rodriguez had an ISO of .266 last season. Cheng has six home runs, six triples, and seven doubles so far.

The first thing is his flyball rate is up to 35.2% compared to 28.9% last season. In most cases, hitting more fly balls will lead to more home runs. Now Greensboro is known to be a hitter friendly venue, but his slugging percentage at home is .457 while it clocks in at .652 on the road, an uptick by nearly two-hundred points.

Posting an above average batting average, drawing a lot of walks, and stealing bases are the three primary things fans likely expected Cheng to do. While he's certainly doing all three of those things, hitting for power was definitely not on any Pirate Prospects Bingo cards for this year.

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