Per Reader Request, a look at Dodgers prospect Hong-Chih Kuo.
Kuo was signed by the Dodgers out of Taiwan back in 1999, earning a $1.25 million bonus on the strength of his mid-90s fastball and power breaking ball.. He made one start in 2000, striking out seven men in three shutout innings for San Bernadino in the Cal League, but he blew out his arm in so doing and had to have Tommy John surgery. Rehab and further elbow pain limited him to just a handful of innings 2001 through 2004.
Kuo is healthy this year and has done extremely well in relief. In 54.1 innings combined between Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville, Kuo has an 86/21 K/BB ratio and a 1.99 ERA. His K/IP is extremely impressive, and all of his numbers are better than average. He seems to have taken well to a relief role, which could/should help him avoid further arm troubles.
There is some risk here, due to his lack of experience above Double-A and his injury history, but his stuff is first-class. If he continues to throw strikes, he should be ready to help the Dodgers in 2006.