The SF Giants promoted a pitching prospect over the weekend. Right-handed pitcher Kai-Wei Teng was bumped up to Triple-A after a nice run with the Richmond Flying Squirrels according to the team's transaction log.
SF Giants promote pitching prospect to Triple-A after strong run with Richmond
Side note, I like how the Giants prospect page is announcing these moves. Previously, it was by some confirmed source, but the fact that it is a page directly connected to the organization removes any room for doubt.
The Giants originally acquired Teng along with Jaylin Davis and Prelander Berroa from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for pitcher Sam Dyson. This means that he has been with the organization for five seasons (including the COVID season), which is a relatively long time for a prospect. It bears mentioning that Teng was acquired as a 20-year-old prospect.
Since he joined the Giants, the righty has established himself as one of the better pitching prospects in the organization.
Teng has made a deliberate ascent up the minor league ladder, which is not uncommon for players signed on the international market. He has put together a nice run in Double-A, which includes a 5.10 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, and a 2.26 SO/W ratio in 40 starts across parts of two seasons with Richmond.
His 68 strikeouts ranked as the seventh-best mark in the Eastern League. That is normally what you get with Teng: A healthy number of strikeouts with a high number of walks as well. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs believes that Teng can stick as a starter:
""Teng has a thick lower half and is a middling athlete, but he’s very well balanced over his blocking leg and otherwise has a smooth delivery that should not only enable him to throw enough strikes to remain a starter, but perhaps develop plus command, as well. There’s already strong breaking ball utility here, the ability to vary shape based on location, and competitive, arm-side changeup feel, too. Teng’s frame is maxed out, so he probably won’t add velo, but that’s still a No. 4/5 skillset.""- Eric Longenhagen
The pitching prospect has a four-pitch mix that includes a mid-90's fastball curveball, slider, and a changeup. The curveball is probably his best pitch as it gets the most swinging strikes in games that I have seen, but the slider is not far behind.
Oddly, the strike-throwing ability has not necessarily developed as Longenhagen suggested it would. Teng joins a Sacramento River Cats rotation that features top pitching prospect Kyle Harrison. Sean Hjelle, Tristan Beck, and Keaton Winn are all with the club, so there is a huge need for starting pitching in Triple-A.
Richmond boasts a rotation that includes some of the organization's top pitching prospects such as Landen Roupp, Mason Black, and Carson Whisenhunt. Roupp and Black have pitched well lately, whereas Whisenhunt has put together a strong first season as a pro. All three could be candidates for a promotion sooner rather than later.