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An-Ko Lin, the argentinian-taiwanese phenom that dominates the CPBL

An-Ko Lin, the argentinian-taiwanese phenom that dominates the CPBL

Para la versión en español de esta misma entrevista, hacer click acá.

In this pandemic times we are living, with so much spare time in our houses and so little live sports to watch, the objective of having time passing by could be more difficult than we wanted. And that was the story for some long weeks: the quarantine got us all locked in (even now it’s still like this) and without much stuff to get distracted. Luckily, with the passing of days and the improvement in some countries’ health situations for being kind of able to stop the advance of coronavirus, professional baseball has, slowly, get back to normal in those places. The kickoff was made by Taiwan and it’s CPBL, followed by South Korea and the KBO, two well known tournaments that are distinguished for being “batter’s leagues”.

And so, thirsty of baseball, we started getting up really early to follow the taiwanese actions. We were so hooked up with the CPBL that we dedicated a special chapter in Desde el Bullpen, the new podcast we started a few weeks ago, and that’s when we received an unexpected message. “Not sure if I mentioned this to you in the past, but there is a half argentinian player in the league”, the tweet of our friend Rob Liu started (his Twitter account @GOCPBL is a must follow for those eager to be up to date with the latest tourney news), “his name in An-Ko Lin, #77, outfielder with the Uni-Lions”.

At that moment we started off with the adventure of trying to contact him, not without searching more info of his, when we realised that he was one of the top bats in the league. The day this article is being published, his numbers talk by themselves: 34 H (3° in the league), 28 RBI (1°), 23 R (3°), 7 HR (2°) and 9 2B (1°) in 88 AB. His line is .386 (4°)/.456 (2° between player with at least 90 PA)/.750 (2° between player with at least 90 PA). We took some days to locate him (not more than we thought, anyways), but finally we could arrange this interview that was made live via Skype, from one side of the world to the other. Well into Argentina’s dawn, which was Taiwan’s afternoon, we had this conversation with An-Ko Lin, that with just 22 years old (he will turn 23 on May 19th) has a hell of a future in front and that has already been scouted by MLB’s and NPB’s (Japan) teams.

– An-Ko, the first thing we want to ask you, which is your connection to Argentina?

– My mother was born there. She’s been living in Taiwan for some time now, but she keeps very good memories of her time in your country. My father is taiwanese, they met each other working in Argentina.

– Have you ever visited our country?

– Yes, I was there when I was really young. I think I was about three years old. I did not have the luck of going back since then, but I’m sure that I wanna visit again someday. Maybe I can do it in the next offseason, but I’m not sure yet if I will be able to.

– What do you know about Argentina?

– Honestly, not that much, but I do know the classics: that you have very good steaks and food in general, so when I go I want to try it all. I’m sure I will not miss the chance. I also know that, during winter, it snows in some parts of the country and I really like cold weather.

– In 2016 you disputed the U23 World Cup in Mexico, where you faced our country with the China Taipei team. Did you feel something special towards that game? And before the tourney, did you know we had a baseball national team?

– I didn’t really know, so it was a nice surprise when I found out. We got really excited with my family when we got the news that I was playing against Argentina, specially my mom and I. We also laughed and make fun of each other because I was not sure for what team would my mother root for.

– Would you ever consider to play for the Argentina’s national team some day?

– In the future yes, maybe, I would not discard it. Obviously Taiwan is going to always be my first option because is the land where I was born, but I would also like to play for my mom’s country.

Two players in between the same person

Even though today he is playing the right field, originally An-Ko was always a two-way player, this meaning that he pitches (he has a fastball that touches 92 mph, a changeup and a slider) and is also a position player. From the mound he had some of the most distinguished moments of his young career since he was the starting pitcher of different national youth teams, but because of an overstraining in his throwing arm, the left one, in 2017 he suffered injuries that affected his velo, went through surgery and started to focus mainly in batting. And he is not doing any bad…

– Having always be a two-way player, how do you feel this year with just playing the outfield?

– Good, I like it. In the last Spring Training the team tested my pitching but I didn’t get the results I wanted, so they asked me to focus 100% in being a position player for this season. Besides that, because of how our roster is formed, we needed more bats than arms, so it was the better for everybody. Anyways, it is possible that next year I go back to pitching.

– If you would have to make a choice between only pitching or only being a position player, what would you choose?

– I would choose pitching, no doubt about it. If in any moment I get the chance to return to the mound, I wouldn’t think about it one second. It’s what most happy makes me.

– With the batting numbers you are having, you would make a case to get the Rookie of the Year award, is that something in which you think of?

– Not much, really. Is not something I have in my mind when I go out and play. I just want to make my part with the team, do my job with what the coaches and managers ask me and to contribute to winning games for the club. After that, if the award comes, I will embrace it.

An-Ko was the Uni-Lions’ first draft pick in 2019. He was signed for 177.000 dollars, with a rookie salary of $40.000.

– Which are your objectives for this 2020?

– Just continue to do the things as I’m doing them right now, so I can try to have this good present all through the year long. This is just my second season as a professional baseball player so I don’t think too much ahead. By now, I just want to stay in the first team roster and aspire to qualify for the postseason.

– Do you dream with playing in the MLB in the future?

– Yes, it’s one of my desires, but it’s not something in which I’m focused right now. But obviously that if in the future I get that opportunity, I would love to go to the United States and play there.

– Is there any MLB player that you feel identified with?

– Yes, with Madison Bumgarner. I admire his personality when he plays, also the fact that he seems to get better in the playoffs and, besides that, that he is a lefty pitcher as I am. Another one I like and follow is Shohei Ohtani, from Japan. Most of all because he is a two-way player as me.

– How do you feel with playing in a CPBL that, because the global pandemic we are living, it’s in the spotlight of the baseball world right now?

– It makes me happy because it means that my country should have made something good so things are the way they are now. That is the reason why our league could start before any other one. Anyways, this big exposure we are getting does not change us by itself. We just keep playing baseball in the way we always did.

– Beyond that, how are you living thru this coronavirus times?

– Actually, we do not have to worry so much about this pandemic. I would tell you that we are almost living our normal lives, except for maybe having to wear masks or having some extra care, but not too much besides that.

– To conclude, since many argentinian baseball fans knew that a fellow compatriot is a star in the CPBL, they are slowly starting to follow you and your team. Would you like to give them any message?

– Yes, that I thank them very much for supporting me and the Uni-Lions. It’s important to know that in Argentina, my mom’s country, I’m starting to be a bit more recognised. I wish I can be there really soon.

Periodista formado en @escuelacpd, @DiarioOle y @defeweb. Béisbol y fútbol americano en Argentina. Coordinador y editor de @BeisbolArgCom.

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