Transaction: Tampa Bay Rays send RHP Chih-Wei Hu to the Cleveland Indians for INF/OF Gionti Turner
About Hu: Hu entered pro ball after being signed by the Twins for around $200,000 in 2012. He was shipped to Tampa in 2015 as part of the package for RP Kevin Jepsen. Hu has been on the shuttle back and forth between Durham and Tampa Bay the last couple of seasons. He’s bounced between the bullpen and the rotation in Durham the last two years, but his eleven career big league appearances have all been out of the bullpen. Here’s the low down on Hu:
“The Indians acquired the Taiwan native earlier this offseason by taking advantage of the Rays roster crunch. Hu sits in the low 90’s now and can get to 95 when he needs it. His fastball is just average, but it’s his changeup that’s the difference maker here. Hu’s changeup has sharp, diving splitter action and he has shown a willingness to even throw it against righties. His breaking balls are nothing special, but he can throw his curveball or slider for strikes. His slider operates more like a cutter with not as much vertical break as it has run. Hu was a shrewd pick-up by an organization with a reputation of just that, and should make an impact out of the Tribe’s bullpen if they go that route. They could keep Hu as a rotation piece to help fill out the backend though, but I like his profile better in the bullpen. ETA: 2017.”
It’s worth noting that Hu is an extreme fly-ball pitcher that gets above-average whiff rates. He’s displayed advanced command at every stop and is more of a high-floor arm than anything. He does have an option remaining so he should expect to see Columbus this year.
About Turner: Gionti Turner was the Indians 27th round selection in the 2018 draft. It’s unusual for 27th round picks to get a six figure bonus, but that’s exactly what Turner received when he signed for $125,000. Turner’s most attractive skills are his plus speed and athleticism, and the Indians took advantage of that by playing him at second base, shortstop and centerfield in the AZL.
Offensively, Turner is aggressive when he’s in the box and on the bases. Despite his wiry frame he hits the ball hard and collected 13 extra base hits in only 46 games. The swing is noisy with some flair and it reminds me a bit of former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Both teams got what they were looking for in this one-for-one swap, with the Indians continuing to acquire high-minors prospects while the Rays add another interesting lottery ticket to their organization.