Following a slow start at Double-A Altoona, infield prospect Tsung-Che Cheng has heated up at the plate since July 1st looking more like the hitter he was with High-A Greensboro earlier in the season
For the early part of the 2023 season few prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system were as hot at the plate as infielder Tsung-Che Cheng. Cheng got off to a blistering hot start with High-A Greensboro, which led to a promotion to Double-A Altoona.
In 57 games with Greensboro Cheng hit for a .308/.406/.575 slash line with a 162 wRC+ in 254 plate appearances. Cheng drew walks at a 13.8% clip, struck out at just an 18.5% rate, he hit 9 home runs, stole 13 bases, and posted a very strong isolated slugging (ISO) of .266.
Following this start Cheng earned his promotion to Altoona in late June. Due to a slow start, Cheng his hitting .281/.314/.352 slash line with a 5.1% walk rate, 19.0% strikeout rate, .070 ISO, and a wRC+ of just 82 in 137 PAs at Double-A.
After his slow start, Cheng has begun to heat up at the plate in recent weeks. He is currently riding a 14 game hitting streak, however, Cheng's hot streak with the Curve goes back even further than this current hitting streak.
When Cheng first got to Double-A he started out a woeful 2-for-25. This 2-for-25 start included just two walks, no extra base hits, and 10 strikeouts. On July 1st Cheng started an 8 game hitting streak, which started his improved results at the plate.
Cheng has 109 PAs dating back to July 1st. In these 109 PAs the left-handed hitting Cheng has hit for a .303/.358/.417 slash line with a 4.6% walk rate, just a 14.7% strikeout rate, and a 113 wRC+. You still want to see more power from Cheng who has just an .075 ISO with 4 doubles, a triple, and a home run in this stretch, however, his improved contact has led to much better results at the plate.
Cheng just turned 22-years-old less than two weeks ago. He is still a young prospect and one that Pirate fans should be watching closely the rest of the season. If Cheng continues to hit the way he has for the past five weeks he could put himself in position to start the 2024 season either with Triple-A Indianapolis, or, at least, on the doorstep of Indy.