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Taiwanese lefty pitcher makes Big League jump

TAIPEI -- The Milwaukee Brewers selected minor leaguer Wang Wei-chung (王維中) of Taiwan in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, a move that pundits described as the day's most creative selection.

Wang, a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher, said on his Facebook fan page that he was surprised to be picked, but now that he has the opportunity he will “stay focused” and try to make the Brewers' 25-man opening day roster.

The company representing Wang expressed surprise that a team would pick him to make such a major jump so quickly, but said that it always had faith in the left-hander and expected him to succeed.

Wang sat out 2012 after having Tommy John surgery in 2011. In 2013 he went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 12 games, 11 of them starts, for the Pittsburgh Pirates' team in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, the lowest rung of the minor leagues.

Though seen as a long shot to make Milwaukee's roster, the Brewers liked the fact that he throws strikes — 42 strikeouts vs. four walks in 47 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .209 batting average.

According to the Rule 5 system, Wang must remain on the Brewers' 25-man roster for the entire season or else he will be offered back to the Pirates for half of the original US$50,000 drafting fee.

The Brewers have not kept a Rule 5 pick since reliever Jeff Bennett in 2004.

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