Linsanity: ASU catcher journeys from Taiwan to chase big league dream

Posted: Updated:
Sun Devils catcher Lyle Lin's journey to ASU started in his native Taiwan. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Sun Devils catcher Lyle Lin's journey to ASU started in his native Taiwan. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
ASU catcher Lyle Lin is hoping to build on an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in his freshman year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) ASU catcher Lyle Lin is hoping to build on an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in his freshman year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
His biggest contribution comes inside the clubhouse as a team leader. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) His biggest contribution comes inside the clubhouse as a team leader. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Lin is hoping to become the 15th Major League Baseball player from his home country. (Source: 3TV/CBS  5) Lin is hoping to become the 15th Major League Baseball player from his home country. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It takes a special type of ballplayer to be a catcher. You're a coach, quarterback and a backstop. The Sun Devils have a special story in catcher Lyle Lin.

"It's such a good baseball town here," said Lin, a native of Taipei, Taiwan. "The coaching staff made me feel welcome here, love Arizona."

Lin's journey to Tempe is relatively uncharted. He left home at 15 years old, enrolling at Serra Catholic in Southern California. Lin had to learn English.

"It wasn't easy, especially the first year," said Lin. "Coming to the U.S., it's my dream, one day playing in the show."

The Sun Devils sophomore played first base for ASU as a freshman, even making SportsCenter Top 10 with his glove work. Lin often draws a crowd when he goes back to California, with fans from home and his high school days. 

"Lyle is a rock star internationally," said Tracy Smith, ASU's head coach. "It's an underappreciated story here in the Valley... Here's a guy who learns the English language in six months, leaves his family, goes and lives with a whole another family because his ultimate goal is to play in the big leagues. So he does all of this with that in mind, but he actually acts on it."

[MORE: College sports stories]

Lin already had one chance to pursue that dream, drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of high school. ASU offers something more, the chance to leave a legacy beyond baseball.

"Hopefully in three to five years, more people come to the U.S. from Taiwan to get an education and pursue their dreams," said Lin, a business major. "Open this direction people can come in here and play baseball."

Lin was named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in his freshman year, hitting .290. His biggest contribution comes inside the clubhouse as a team leader.

"You probably talk to the guys. He's like one of the favorites," said Smith. "He's just such a great, great person. The more you look into that kid, it's impressive. It's funny when he goes back to Taiwan, he's a celebrity. People line up for autographs, but he's still Lyle Lin. It doesn't go to his head."

Lin is hoping to become the 15th Major League Baseball player from his home country.

The Sun Devils open the season on Feb. 16 against Miami (Ohio).

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.