Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jen-ho tseng kane cubsJen-Ho Tseng, one of the Cubs’ prized pitching prospects, is trying a new approach and is still getting positive results.

Tseng recently outdueled Nationals prospect Lucas Giolito — MLB Pipeline’s fifth-ranked prospect and top-rated pitcher — on May 25 for Class-A Myrtle Beach, allowing two hits over six innings, while striking out six and allowing no walks. No small task for the 20-year-old Cubs farmhand who is their 10th ranked prospect.

Check out Tseng’s curveball on his sixth strikeout.

But more important than the win was this from Tseng, with regards to his development:

“I’m trying to throw harder this year,” Tseng said. “Sometimes I miss a little bit with my command, so that’s the reason I have more walks this year.”

Tseng took the initiative in the offseason to improve on his velocity, adding “just something I wanted to work on.” The work seems to have paid off with Tseng saying he has added 2-3 miles per hour on his pitches in two months. An eyes-on report had Tseng touching 95 with his fastball, while sitting 91-93.

While toiling at Kane County in 2014, Tseng posted a 6-1 record, 2.40 earned run average and 0.87 WHIP in 19 games (17 starts). He excelled thanks in part to his pin-point command, walking only 15 batters (3.8 BB%) in 105 innings of work with 5.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio as he registered 85 punch outs (21.3 K%).

Tseng has tried to harness his command with his newfound velocity, but has seen his strikeouts-to-walk rate dip to 2.8, his walk rate jump to 6.2 percent and his WHIP increase to 1.17.

May was a bit of a struggle for Tseng prior to his recent gem. In three starts prior to the win, he was 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA, 1.85 WHIP and had more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) in 11.1 innings of work. His April was rather solid as he went 1-0 in three starts, posting a 3.14 ERA and 0.98 WHIP while striking out 10 and walking only one batter in 14.1 innings.

Unfortunately, June did not start too well for Tseng, who allowed only two runs despite giving up a career-high 10 hits in 5.1 innings in a 4-3 loss to the Potomac Nationals in a rematch of Tseng vs. Giolito on June 1.

Tseng is one of four pitchers who rank among the organization’s top-10 prospects, though he might have the longest track record having pitched in multiple international tournaments, including the World Baseball Classic at age 18. You can check out what MLB Pipeline has to say about him here.

It will be interesting to follow Tseng’s progression through the minors, especially as he works to find balance with his command and velocity.

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