Sox first MLB team to sign player from Tibet

Sox first MLB team to sign player from Tibet

BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox will go near and far to find talent, and one of their recent finds is the first player from Tibet to be signed by a Major League Baseball team.

Justin Qiang, a 16-year-old catcher, was signed by Boston for $10,000 in July, and he will play in the Red Sox's instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla., next month. He's listed on the instructional league roster as Renzeng Qiangba, but his full birth name is Qiang Ba Ren Zeng, and he likes to go by his English name: Justin Qiang.

"Our area scout, Louie Lin, had seen him and had him on his follow list for a while. He tipped off Brett Ward, our Pacific Rim supervisor, and the kid had changed positions," said Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero. "He was recently an infielder. Wardy went over to see him there with Luis and he liked him and liked what he saw."

Qiang has played for Chinese national teams in several international showcase events, and the Red Sox had a chance to follow his progress at MLB's baseball academy in Nanjing, China.

"He's an athletic kid, good size to him, and intelligent," said Romero. "Ray Chang, who used to play for us in our Minor League system, was running the MLB Academy over there. So we had a good relationship and a good reference there, and it checked a lot of the boxes in terms of athleticism and makeup and intelligence.

"Given the quick adjustment he made to being a catcher, Wardy kind of got to work with the people that ran the academy and we were able to sign him."

A left-handed hitter, Qiang is listed at 6 feet and 185 pounds.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.