Kai-Wei Teng, RHP
DOB: December 1, 1998
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Trade with Twins (Sam Dyson for Teng, Jaylin Davis, and Prelander Berroa)
ORIGINALLY SIGNED: International Signing, December 21, 2017
LAST LEVEL: Low-A
GiantFutures Ranks: #5 Starting Pitcher
Performance: Teng switched organizations mid-season of 2019, and it was a fantastic season, even more impressive after the trade. Teng had a spectacular overall ERA of 1.58 over 14 appearances on the season. He only started the year mid-season after staying in extended Spring Training, but it worked out well for him.
After the trade, he in particular picked up the strikeouts. He had 39 in 29 innings with Augusta, and he finished the season with three straight games of at least nine strikeouts, and topped it off with 11 strikeouts in 7.0 IP. Overall, it was a spectacular performance, with a WHIP of 0.793.
Notably, Teng was not invited to instructional league in 2020.
Strengths and Weaknesses: It’s rare to have a pitcher with three pitches to have his fastball be perhaps his weakest pitch, but that’s true with Teng.. He uses his slider and changeup more than half the time, and they are both above-average pitches by some that he can throw for strikes.
His fastball, meanwhile, sits in the low 90’s, topping out at 94. It does have a little run in it, but the Giants are working with him to improve his spin efficiency, and hopefully it can join the other pitches at above average. He also has a curve that he hasn’t utilized much.
The other thing about Teng is his fitness. Teng was already listed at 260 lbs at 6’4”, which is pretty hefty. Now, it’s not like there haven’t been other pitchers that have succeeded while being a bit overweight, but at a young age, it’ll be important for Teng to work on his fitness and ensure he’s able to handle to stress of full seasons in baseball, something he has not done yet.
2021 Outlook: Teng clearly dominated Low-A while he was there, but 2020 was a lost year in terms of him being on a mound, even for the alternate and instructional places he might have been. Perhaps the Giants had him focused at home on the fitness side of things. I fully expect him to be in Eugene and facing High-A batters to see if he can repeat his success.
Future Profile: It’s hard not to love those numbers that Teng has had, and his future does look good. However, his ceiling is a bit limited by the tools he has. They may still improve. Even with that limitation, Teng so far looks like a rotation pitcher who will be able to effective and eat up innings. Even in the back half of the rotation, that’s a nice piece to have.