By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Taiwanese right-handed pitcher Sun Yi-Lei joined the Hokkaido Nippon Ham-Fighters in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, the franchise reported on Monday after their press conference at a hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.
According to the team’s website, the contract is for “four years as a training contract.”
On September 28, CPBLstats.com reported that Lei,18, signed with the organization for $630,000.
Lei throws his fastball at 97 mph and has played with the Chinese Taipei national team in two World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 World Cup’s during his career.
“I’ve heard that he’s been gaining strength since this spring, but when I actually saw him, he had great fastballs and courage on the mound”, Ham-Fighters general manager Atsunori Inaba stated on the team’s website. Inaba saw him play in person at the U-18 World Cup event in Taiwan last month.
In the U-18 World Cup last month at the Taipei Tianmu Baseball Stadium in Taipei City on home soil, Lei went 1-1 with a 0.50 ERA in three games starts and made one appearance out of the bullpen, recording one shutout, one save, throwing 14 innings, allowing five hits, one earned run, five walks, and striking out 15. Opposing batters hit just .111 against him, and Lei helped Chinese Taipei reach the gold medal game against Japan and lost 2-1.
During the 2022 U-18 World Cup in Sarasota, Florida, last September, Lei was a two-way player for the event, playing right field and serving as a designated hitter in addition to pitching. Lei batted .292 with 24-at bats in eight games recording seven hits, two doubles, one walk, and six strikeouts. He started against Australia, throwing three innings allowing one earned run, three hits, two walks, and striking out three batters.
“I am very happy to be able to announce Lei’s joining the team here in Taiwan. The Fighters’ international scouts have been paying attention to Lei since he was a sophomore in high school,” Inaba said via the organization’s website.
Lei will start his first year as a professional for the Ham-Fighters farm system with their minor league team at Tapic Stadium in Nago City, Japan for the 2024 season.