Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang showed flashes during first season

(4/26/22)Stockton Ports' Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang delivers a pitch during the Ports Education Day matinee game against the Fresno Grizzlies at the Stockton Ballpark downtown Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORDPorts Edu Day 027a
(4/26/22)Stockton Ports' Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang delivers a pitch during the Ports Education Day matinee game against the Fresno Grizzlies at the Stockton Ballpark downtown Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORDPorts Edu Day 027a /
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Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang was another international man of mystery for the Oakland A’s heading into the season.

Little had been known about Zhuang when he signed. He had the type of arsenal that would theoretically work stateside – a fastball that could touch the mid 90s, a devastating splitter, a fading change, and the vestiges of a slider and a curve. With some refinement, it was possible that the A’s had found a bargain.

Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang turning into intriguing prospect for Oakland A’s

This made his professional debut all the more intriguing. He had not pitched professionally in Taiwan but had dominated in the U-23 tournament before joining the A’s organization. There was no way of knowing how Zhuang would fare with a steeper challenge stateside.

He showed some of his potential during his brief time on the mound. He had just eight outings, accounting for 42 innings, with the Stockton Ports before landing on the Injured List on June 9. His 4.71 ERA and 1.310 WHiP were not exactly impressive either.

However, there were still positive signs in his abbreviated performance. Zhuang walked just nine batters with 43 strikeouts; his 4.78 K/BB rate was the fourth best of any A’s minor league with at least 35 innings this season. His ability to throw strikes, and get the opposition to swing and miss, is certainly encouraging.

The A’s may have Zhuang back in Stockton for the start of the 2023 campaign. It would be a chance to let him find some success and build back up. However, if he continues to show that swing and miss stuff and strong command, he may not be there for long. The A’s second mystery man could end up making a name for himself next year if he stays healthy.

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Chen Zhong-Ao Zhuang saw his 2022 campaign cut short by injury. However, he showed enough for the Oakland A’s to have hope going forward.

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