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BASEBALL/Dodgers sign 17-year-old Taiwanese outfielder in US$750,000 deal

06/17/2024 07:53 PM
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Taiwanese baseball player Ko Ching-hsien. CNA photo June 17, 2024
Taiwanese baseball player Ko Ching-hsien. CNA photo June 17, 2024

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) The Los Angeles Dodgers signed 17-year-old Taiwanese outfielder Ko Ching-hsien (柯敬賢) to a contract Monday worth a total of US$750,000 (NT$24.27 million).

At a press event in Taipei on Monday, Ko was presented with a No. 91 Dodgers jersey in the presence of Dodgers' director of Pacific Rim scouting Jon Deeble and scout Allen Lin to celebrate the signing.

Ko, who is of Indigenous Amis and South African descent, had been on Lin's radar since he was 14 years old.

Deeble said he was made aware of the young left-handed hitter by Lin, and that time has proven Lin's intuition to be correct, especially after Ko's stellar performance at the 2023 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup last year.

At that tournament he hit .550 with a double, a home run and four RBIs, and had a .690 on-base percentage, helped by seven walks and two hit-by-pitches in 29 plate appearances.

His performance helped Taiwan win the silver medal at the competition and earned him a spot on Taiwan's roster for the BFA U-18 Asian Baseball Championship this year.

On whether Ko will be allowed to play for his country at that tournament, Deeble said it was an honor to play for one's country, and that the Dodgers will allow Ko to do so as long as he is healthy.

Deeble said he believed Ko will not need a lot of time to adjust to the game in the United States because his style of play is similar to that of players in the U.S., even comparing him stylistically to former Dodger Cody Bellinger, who now plays for the Chicago Cubs.

Dodgers' director of Pacific Rim scouting Jon Deeble (right). CNA photo June 17, 2024
Dodgers' director of Pacific Rim scouting Jon Deeble (right). CNA photo June 17, 2024

A dream come true

Ko said at Monday's event that it had always been a dream of his to play for the Dodgers and that his goal would be to make the major league roster in four years after spending time in the minor leagues.

He received a surprise welcome from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in a pre-recorded video.

Ko said the video came as a shock, and that at one point he thought his idol Shohei Ohtani might even appear.

He also revealed that his new jersey number was in honor of his late father, who had always been his rock and support system on his baseball journey prior to his passing in 2022.

The "91" represents the first two numbers of Sept. 13 (9/13), the date his father died, Ko said.

Though his father could not see his son sign with the Dodgers, Ko felt he was still able to keep his promise to his father that he would pursue a career in baseball and never give up.

Ko's signing came after another young Taiwanese baseball star at the 2023 U-18 World Cup, left-handed pitcher Lin Wei-en (林維恩), was signed by the Oakland Athletics earlier this month for US$1.35 million.

Ko and Lin both went to Taoyuan Municipal Pingjen Senior High School and are cousins, and Ko on Monday hoped that they will both do well in the U.S.

(By Hsieh Ching-wen and James Lo)

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