Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

Chinese Signings: The Beginning

The New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners have opened up the market for Chinese baseball players this year, adopting very different strategies to do so.

The Yankees, whose interest in developing the game in China has been well documented, signed two Chinese teenagers this week, the first players ever signed out of China with the consent of the Government. The new minor leaguers are 19 year old left-handed pitcher Kai Liu, and 19 year old catcher Zhenwang Zheng.

The Mariners also made two signings, but seem to be attempting to make their inroads into Chinese scouting by hedging their bets on older, more experienced players who might allow them to lay claim to the first ever Chinese born players in the Major Leagues. This morning, the Mariners’ official website announced that they have signed two players from the Chinese national team to minor league contracts. The new Mariners farmhands are 28 year old catcher Wei Wang, and 24-year-old “Infielder/Outfielder” Yu Bing Jia. Wang was the first player to hit a home run in the 2006 World Baseball Classic when he went deep against Koji Uehara, one of the best pitchers in the Japanese League. Wang went 2-9 in China’s three WBC games, adding a double in the Chinese team’s final WBC game against Taiwan.

The 24-year-old Jia did not appear in the WBC, but according to the Mariners’ press release, he has played on the Chinese national team since 2003 and led the Chinese Baseball League in home runs this year. He was also a member of the Chinese team at the 2002 World University Championships that pulled off an upset over a United States team that featured eventual major leaguers Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia, Connor Jackson, and Rickie Weeks.

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June 21, 2007 - Posted by | Chinese Baseball, International Signings

5 Comments »

  1. From the press release: “Yu Bing Jia and Wei Wang are both members of the Chinese National Baseball Team and will report to Seattle’s Australian Summer League Team when not fulfilling National Team commitments this summer.”

    I’m curious about this Australian league. Do you know anything about it?

    Comment by Will | June 22, 2007

  2. Gary Sheffield is not going to like this news.

    Comment by Arizona Home Owner Insurance | June 27, 2007

  3. Will,

    There´s no affiliated Australian Summer League. I double-checked with a couple of friends down in Australia, and the best guess any of us could come up with was that the Ms´ Chinese signings will be hanging out at the Australian MLB Academy until they get visas to appear stateside.

    Comment by jhelfgott | June 27, 2007

  4. Hello. I just found your site. It is excellent.

    What are the wrinkles in the rules that allow these singings before July 1? Is July 1 just a restriction for signing 16 year olds?

    Basically, what are the rules governing international FA signings. Where can I find that info?

    Comment by RunSup | June 29, 2007

  5. I’m a little hazy on the exact rules, but it’s pretty much just the 16-year-olds. A lot of teams make signings in the month before their summer league seasons start as a way to fill out their rosters. Usually those guys aren’t prospects.

    Taiwan (and obviously China) has its own set of rules which I’m not really familiar with, but I have never seen a report of a Taiwanese player signing under the age of 18, so I assume the Taiwanese government makes MLB wait until their kids are out of high school before they can sign.

    Comment by jhelfgott | June 29, 2007


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