Chien-Fu Kuo Lee
Chien-Fu Kuo Lee
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 209 lb.
Chien-Fu Kuo Lee (known as Tateo Kakuri in Japan) was a top amateur pitcher from 1988-1992 but did not achieve as much success in the professional ranks.
Kuo Lee pitched for Taiwan in the 1988 Olympics and 1988 Baseball World Cup. In the latter event, he only allowed four hits in 12 innings and was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA to help Chinese Taipei to a Bronze. He struggled in the semifinals, allowing two runs and retiring no one in a 6-3 loss to the USA. Kuo Lee was on the Taiwan entries in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup and 1990 Goodwill Games.
He was a workhorse for Taiwan in the 1990 Baseball World Cup, throwing 33 1/3 innings out of their 70 total. He went 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA and struck out 24 batters. He led the Cup in wins and was second to Min-tae Chung in strikeouts. Kuo Lee shut out Canada and beat Team USA despite allowing 7 runs in 7 innings. He was named to the Cup All-Star team along with Omar Ajete as the top two pitchers. The rest of Taiwan's staff was 0-5 with a 12.27 ERA. Kuo Lee was named the MVP despite his team finishing only in 6th place.
Kuo Lee was 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in the 1991 Intercontinental Cup. He struck out 22 batters in 26 1/3 innings to finish fourth in the tournament. He started the Bronze Medal game but got a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to Nicaragua. He was named the best right-handed pitcher in the 1991 Asian Championship, helping Taiwan qualify for the '92 Olympics.
Kuo Lee sealed his amateur record by dominating the 1992 Olympics with a 3-0, 0.93 record. In 29 innings, he allowed just 11 hits and struck out 23. He tossed a 3-hit shutout of the Japanese national team despite 7 walks. He allowed one run and 3 hits in a complete game win over Puerto Rico. Kuo Lee also threw two scoreless innings against Team USA in relief in a 10-9 loss. He gave up two runs in nine innings in a semifinal win over Japan to send Taiwan to the Gold Medal game. His three complete games all came in a 7-day stretch. Unfortunately, Kuo Lee was unavailable for the Gold Medal game after all that work and Cuba won 11-1.
Through 2004, Kuo Lee's 3 Olympic wins are tied for second all-time, behind only Masanori Sugiura.
Kuo Lee earned a $800,000 deal with the Hanshin Tigers due to his international dominance. Only two US players, Jeffrey Hammonds and Calvin Murray, signed a larger deal after the 1992 amateur draft, giving Kuo Lee probably the second-richest contract of any amateur signee that year.
In his first year with Hanshin, Kuo Lee was 5-4 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA. In 1994 in Japanese Baseball, the right-hander had a 7-5 record with two saves and a 3.14 ERA in 49 games (47 of them out of the bullpen). In 1995, he started 17 games and relieved in 13, finishing 5-12 with a 3.37 ERA for a bad (46-84) Tigers outfit.
Kakuri was Hanshin's closer in 1996 and had a 8-9 record with 15 saves and a 3.62 ERA. He struggled in 1997 (5.79 ERA in 5 games) and 1998 (2-1, 4.61 in 11 games) in limited action. Overall, his record in Nippon Pro Baseball was 27-31 with 19 saves. In 375 innings, he allowed 337 hits, 194 walks and 299 strikeouts. He pitched 167 games for Hanshin.
Kuo Lee went to play in his native country of Taiwan in 1999, joining the China Trust Whales. He was 15-9 with a 2.89 ERA that year, tying Kevin Henthorne for the Chinese Professional Baseball League lead in wins and placing 10th in ERA. He followed with a 10-6, 2.39 campaign to finish fifth in ERA, the best of any native player. In 2001, his record was 0-1 with 11 saves a 2.36 ERA in 26 2/3 IP. With professional players now permitted in the Baseball World Cup, Kuo Lee returned to Cup action for the third decade. This time around, he was not carrying a staff all by himself. He appeared in 3 games out of the bullpen, allowing no runs and notching a save.
In 2002, he saved 16 to lead the CPBL and his record was 4-5, 2.32. He finished in 2003 with a 9-6 record, 8 saves and a 3.05 ERA.