Indians sign pitcher Lee after impressive Olympics for Taiwan

CLEVELAND -- Impressed by his outings for Taiwan in the Olympics, the Cleveland Indians signed pitcher Chen-Chang Lee on Tuesday.

"He has had a great deal of experience and success pitching at the highest level of international competition," said John Mirabelli, the Indians' assistant general manager in charge of scouting.

"We have scouted him since he was 16 years old and believe he has the skills to rise quickly through our farm system," he said.

The 21-year-old righty pitched nine innings in the Olympics, giving up six hits and two runs while striking out 11 in two games.

Lee pitched 6 2/3 innings in a start against Cuba, allowing one run and striking out seven. He worked against the United States in relief, going 2 1/3 innings and giving up one run while striking out four.

Lee said he also was contacted by professional teams in Japan, but preferred playing in America.

"There is a greater opportunity in the United States," Lee said through a translator.

Mirabelli said Lee likely would begin his professional career next season at Kinston of the Class A Carolina League.

Mirabelli equated Lee's talent level to that of a college player selected as a third- or fourth-round pick in the annual draft. Contract terms were not released.

As a 19-year old in 2006 at the World University Championships, Lee held Cuba to one run and two hits over 8 1/3 innings.