Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Rosario Continues Homer Tear - Eight in Three Games

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

On June 16 Rosario blasted four homeruns. The next day he only hit one. Today Rosario sent three balls over the fence in the Hanwha Eagles 13-5 win over the KT Wiz. That is eight homeruns in three games. Don’t know if any player has ever hit eight homeruns in three games. All of the blasts were hit off the KT Wiz pitching staff.

Rosario has also driven in 14 runs in the three games. He drove in seven runs with the four homer game and five runs in the three homer game. He still has a game tomorrow to continue his streak.

The first homerun was a two run shot in the seven run third inning. He hit a solo shot in the fourth. His third homer of the day came in the eighth, a two run shot. He never got another at bat to hit his fourth.

With the summer heat coming the balls are flying in the KBO. Five of the ten teams scored in double digits today with scores of 13-5, 16-8, 14-3, 13-11 and 7-5.

Rosario with Four Homerun Day in KBO

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Many were surprised when Wilin Rosario signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) two years ago. If he was not a quality defensive catcher he still had a quality bat. He showed off that bat and joined the Scooter Gennett four homerun club in the Hanwha Eagles 15-14 win over the KT Wiz driving in seven with his clouts. He walked once and scored five runs in his six at bats.

The day started off innocent enough with a walk in the first inning. Kim Kyung-eon followed with a three run homer. The Eagles had jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Kim would finish the day with two homeruns but he could not keep up with Wilin.

In the second inning Rosario blasted a two out two run homer to give Hanwha an early 6-0 lead. Wilin was willing in the fifth inning with a solo shot to elevate the score to 7-2. The Wiz rallied for 8 runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 10-7 lead.

In the sixth inning Rosario unloaded on his third homerun of the day, a three run shot that put the Eagles up 11-10. The Eagles would score seven runs in the inning to recapture the lead 14-10.

Rosario led off the seventh with his fourth homerun of the day. That homerun was needed after the Wiz rallied for four runs in the bottom frame to close the score to 15-14.

Rosario had one more opportunity to go deep in the ninth inning, establishing his own five homerun club. With a runner on first he grounded into a double play. Neither team scored a run in the last two innings and the game ended 15-14.

Of his four homeruns the farthest travelled at 425 feet. Two were hit at 410 feet and the last homerun was listed at 330 feet. Rosario is now hitting .322 with 13 homeruns in 53 games after getting off to a slow start to the 2017 season. Last year Rosario hit .321 with 33 homeruns in 127 games. He will need to go on a couple of these homerun streaks if he hopes to reach that 33 homerun total from last year.

The above info courtesy of KBO.news.

2017 Top Asian Prospects

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Not a great exodus of Korean players, which bulked up this list last year. This made the 2017 list tough to put together. Almost all the players who made the list last year are no longer eligible after playing in the major leagues. Kenta Maeda was the top prospect, but his second year has not gone so well. Byung-Ho Park struggled to make contact and has been sent to the minor leagues to get his swing back. Hyun Sun Kim was in a platoon role for the Orioles. His power has not translated to the major leagues and it would surprise myworld if the Orioles resign him. Dae-Ho Lee, the sixth rated prospect is back playing in Korea after one season in the major leagues. The seventh rated prospect Seung-Hwan Ho took over the closer job for the Cardinals but the 2017 season isn’t going as well even though he maintains the closer position.

This whittles the prospect list to five. Rob Refsnyder did not return to the list because of his paucity of tools. Sean-Reid Foley, who was born in Guam jumped up to be the number one rated Asian prospect. Most of the other players are fringe prospects.

1. Sean Reid Foley (RHP) Guam/Blue Jays - Sean was born in Guam to American parents. His brother, who was a catcher in the Dodgers system taught him a curveball, which he broke out last year. That, along with a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s and a slider gives him a good selection of pitches to choose from. Last year he had a break out season at Low and High A with 21 starts and ERAs below 3.00. The opposition hit him at less than .200. This year a promotion to AA has not been kind to him. Hitters are slaying him at a .272 pace, his command is off with a walk every two innings pitched which leaves his ERA at a ugly 5.40. It appeared he had turned things around when he pitched six innings of shutout ball on his 11th start, but his last start he was smacked around for 6 runs in three innings. A September call up may have to wait until he turns his season around.

2. Chih-Wei Hu (RHP) Taiwan/Rays - It is rare to see Taiwan pitchers hit the upper 90s with their fastball, but Hu has that ability. He stands only 6′1″ but he mixes his change with his fastball well to stymie AA hitters last year. There are not a lot of strikeouts to his game but an improvement in a breaking pitch could change that. The Rays have moved him to the bullpen after three early starts to begin the season. They called him up for four bullpen sessions with the major league club where he only gave up three hits in his eight innings of work. Expect a return to the major leagues if he continues with his success in the bullpen in 2017. His fastball shows mid to high 90s velocity in the pen.

3. Jae-Gyun Hwang (3B) Giants/Korea - In his last two years in the KBO he hit 26 and 27 homeruns. Prior to that the power did not show. His career average in the KBO was only.286, which is below average for a hitter’s league where almost everyone shoots for .300. His last year he did hit .335. The Giants signed him, but despite their weakness at third base Hwang was sent to the minor leagues. The Giants needs have not really been addressed at the position and Hwang is hitting .291 at AAA. The power is not there with only 6 homeruns and a .478 slugging average. Christian Arroyo struggled in his major league opportunity, hitting just .192. He is hitting better than Hwang in AAA with a .417 average and a .643 slugging. At some point the Giants have to give him an opportunity.

4. Yu-Cheng Chang (SS) Taiwan/Indians - In 2016 Chang made the Carolina League All star team, hitting .259 and showing some pop for the middle infield position with 13 homeruns. This year he is struggling with a .211 average. The power is there with 11 homeruns and a .464 slugging but there are too many whiffs in his game (66 in 54 games). He is also committing too many errors for the shortstop position (12 in 51 games) but a move to third has not reduced those errors (5 in 16 games). Chang needs to improve his contact, become more consistent with the glove and find a position where his power bat can benefit a lineup before he can sniff the major leagues.

5. Hoy-Jun Park (SS) Yankees/Korea - The Yankees are very crowded at short. Park has the glove for the position but his bat is a little too quiet. He has also had trouble with the glove this year with a fielding percentage less than .900. They have played him a little at second base. Unless they trade Gleyber Torres or Didi Gregorius the best spot for Park looks to be second base. His power is not there to play third. This is his second season in Low A. His bat appears to be improved (.250/.349/.370) but his fielding has been more inconsistent and his stolen base percentage has dropped from 32 of 35 last year to just 8 of 12 this year. While his homerun numbers have increased his triple numbers have dropped.

6. Tzu-Wei Lin (SS) Red Sox/Taiwan - The Red Sox shelled out just over $2 million for Lin. His glove is solid and he has some speed, but that is what they said about Hak-Ju Lee who was last seen playing in Japan in the Independent Leagues. The bat needs to start showing some spark if he is to separate himself from some of the other Red Sox shortstops. After hitting just .223 with a .580 OPS in AA last year Lin is back there for the 2017 season. His bat seems to have found some life with a .306 average and a .866 OPS. The Red Sox have also played him a few games in centerfield. If he can keep his offense at this level some team will find a spot for his glove if the Red Sox lack the room.

7. Wei-Chieh Huang (RHP) Taiwan/Diamondbacks - Durability concerns have moved Huang to the bullpen. It could improve the velocity on his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and allow Huang to survive on a fastball/change repertoire. So far so good. In 14 relief appearances his ERA sits at 1.71 with a .177 opposition average. He recently returned from a one month stay on the disabled list.

8. Jin-De Jhang (C) Taiwan/Pirates - Jhang is a defensive catcher who the Pirates hope will develop with the bat. There is some pop in his swing, but that has not showed in games. His big year for the homerun was in 2013 and 2015 when he hit five. He makes good contact and can spray balls into the gap. This year he is struggling with a .197 average with only one extra base hit in his 16 games. The best Jhang can hope for if his bat does not develop is as a back up catcher. Or he can return to Taiwan and play in the CPBL.

9. Daniel Missaki (RHP) Japan/Brewers - He was born in Japan but he pitched in Brazil, playing for the 2013 World Baseball Classic team as the youngest player in the tournament. The Mariners signed him in 2013 after the WBC. He was traded last year to the Brewers in the Adam Lind trade even though Tommy John surgery had ended his 2015 season. Prior to that he had combined with two other pitchers to throw a no hitter. His fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the high 80s but his curveball and change are decent pitches. Daniel has not pitched since 2015 and will probably begin his comeback in the rookie league.

10.Shao-Ching Chiang (RHP) Taiwan/Indians - Durability issues have also plagued Chiang. He signed with the Indians in 2011 and saw a delay in the start of his career after Tommy John surgery limited him to two appearances in two games. Last year he did start 27 games, but he is a contact type pitcher with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s but mostly sits in the low 90s. He pitched for Taiwan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This year he has started strong with a 7-3, 2.57 ERA in 11 starts. The opposition is hitting him at a .238 clip, which would be the lowest in his career. He still doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses.

2016 Asian Prospects

Young KBO Players to Watch

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Myworld took a look at some of the KBO rosters and found a number of young players (27 or younger) with good numbers. Myworld does not really know enough about these players to rank them according to ability. So we will sort them by team.

Kia Tigers

Ki-Young Im RHP - In a hitter’s league Im is having a fantastic season. The 24 year old has a 1.82 ERA with a 7-2 record. His strikeout numbers are low (44 in 74 innings) but his overall ERA is at least two runs lower than his previous two seasons.

Yoon-Dong Kim RHP - Another 24 year old who pitches out of the bullpen. His ERA is good (3.63) and he has picked up five saves.

Chi-Hong An Infielder - This is his eighth year in the KBO. At 26 years old he is hitting .317 with five homeruns with the power potential to reach double digits in homeruns.

NC Dinos

Sung Bum Na Outfield - At 27 years old he is a bit old for a prospect. In four of his five years he has hit over .300 with a .347 average this year. He has some power hitting 20 or more homeruns his last three years. He was placed on the DL after May 28.

LG Twins

Chan-Gyu Lim RHP - At 24 his ERA sits at 1.98, three runs lower than his previous four seasons in the KBO. He has found himself in the Twins starting rotation after spending his first three years with the team in the bullpen.

Doosan Bears

Duk-Ju Ham LHP - His ERA is not special (4.50) but he is only 22 and throws lefthanded. He also has struck out 50 in 50 innings, though control is still the problem with 33 walks.

Nexon Heroes

Won-Tae Choi RHP - The Heroes have given the 20 year old 11 starts despite his 5.59 ERA. Despite the relative high ERA it has improved from last year.

Hyun-Hee Han RHP - The 23 year old has a 3.04 ERA. This is his fifth year in the league and probably his best one.

Sang-Woo Jo RHP - The 22 year old has nice strikeout numbers (36 whiffs in 38 innings) but gives up too many hits to put his ERA at 5.05.

Jung-Hoo Lee (centerfield) - This is the first KBO season for the 18 year old. He is hitting .327 with just two homeruns.

Keon-Chang Seo (Second Base) - His 201 hits in 2014 set a KBO record. At 27 he is becoming more of a veteran with a bat hitting .349. He is a leadoff hitter for the Heroes.

Ha-Seong Kim SS - At 21 years of age he replaced Jung-Ho Kang at shortstop. His first two years he hit 19 and 20 homeruuns. This year his average is down (.247) with only six homeruns.

Lotte Giants

Won-Joong Kim RHP - He gave up 10 runs in one inning his last start to have his ERA climb to 5.79. The 23 year old should remain in the starting rotation, even after the poor outing.

Jin-Hyung Park RHP - The 22 year old gave up 17 runs in his last two starts covering less than seven innings to raise his ERA to 6.94. He has struck out 47 in 45.2 innings.

Se-Woong Park RHP - In his third year this 21 year old has stitched together a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts. The last time he gave up more than two runs in a start was in April.

SK Wyverns

Dong-Min Han RF - The first of the “Dong Dong” brothers, this 27 year old is hitting .295 with 18 homeruns and 47 RBIs in a breakout season.

Dong-Yeop Kim LF - A year younger, this Dong is hitting .266, 13, 40 in his second year in the KBO.

KT Wiz

Jae-Min Shim LHP - The 23 year old has seen 27 games out of the bullpen crafting together a 3.24 ERA with 7 holds.

Hanwha Eagles

Ju-Suk Ha SS - At 24 he is in his fifth year with the Eagles hitting .274 with 4 homeruns. This is his second season where he is consistently in the starting lineup.

Samsung Lions

Ja-Wook Koo RF - The heir to Seong-Yeop Lee, the 24 year old is hitting .300 with 12 homeruns and 42 RBIs in his third season with the Lions.

Longest On Base Streak Ends

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Ted Williams had an on base streak that lasted 84 games in 1949. That is the major league record. Tae Kyun Kim went two better, putting together an on base streak that went 86 games. That beat the KBO record by 23 games. His on base streak ended in an 0 for 4 day with three ground outs and a fly out.

Kim is currently hitting .351 with seven homeruns and 36 RBIs in 41 games. At 35 years of age he spends most of his time at DH. In his 15 year KBO career he has only three seasons in which he has hit less than .300, back to back season in 2006 and 2007 when he hit .290 and .291 and his second season in 2002 when he hit .255. His career average is .325. He played two seasons in Japan in 2010 and 2011 in which he hit only .250 and .268. During his second year he was limited to just 31 games. He returned to the KBO in 2012.

Kim plays for the Hanwha Eagles. Until the signing of Dae-Ho Lee this year Kim had the highest salary in the KBO. That has not helped his Hanwha Eagles this year. They find themselves ahead of only the Samsung Eagles in the KBO. The last time they have made the playoffs was in 2007.

Romak on Fire in KBO

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Jamie Romak began the season playing in AAA El Paso where he led the minor leagues in homeruns with 11 in 25 games. At 31 years of age he had hit 211 homeruns in the minor leagues over a 14 year career. It was not the place he wanted to be. Been there. Done that. His major league service time had consisted of 27 games with no homeruns.

A team in Korea, the SK Wyverns was interested in signing him. It was not the major leagues but it was something different. Romak signed with the Wyverns for $450,000, which is a better salary than AAA. The Wyverns had released Danny Worth and were looking for a big bat to help them in their playoff run.

Jamie has certainly been that big bat. He hit two homeruns yesterday in the Wyverns 5-2 win over the Hanwha Eagles, driving in four of the five Wyvern runs. This brings his homerun total to 10 homeruns in 21 games. Ten of his twenty hits on the year have left the park. He also has four doubles.

If you include his minor league numbers Romak has now hit 21 homeruns in just 46 games. That is pretty good for someone not noted for hitting the ball out of the park. His career high for a season is 27, which he hit last year. Based on his current pace, he should race past that.

First Dominican Batterymates to Win in Korea

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

It is uncommon for Asian clubs to sign catchers to fill their clubs. The language barrier and the ability to communicate with their pitchers is important. When the Hanwha Eagles signed catcher Wilin Rosario his position was to play first base or DH. Even in the major leagues Wilin was not considered a strong defensive catcher. When the Eagles signed Dominican Alexi Ogando for the 2017 season to be one of their starters the communication dynamic changed.

In the major leagues Alexi was used mostly in relief. Because his Korean is limited and both Rosario and Ogando are from the Dominican Republic it seemed only natural to pair them as a battery mate. The Eagles were scheduled a Dominican Republic day and Ogando requested Rosario to be his personal catcher. For this day at least it seemed natural they be paired.

Ogando threw six strong innings, allowing just one run in the Eagles 3-1 win over the defending champion Doosan Bears. After Ogando departed in the seventh and the Eagles went to a Korean pen Rosario moved to first base. The Korean pen shut down the Bears the last three innings to give the Dominican battery the win.

Ogando is pitching well for the Eagles at 5-4 with a 3.17 ERA. This is in a hitter’s league where ERAs are generally over 4. Rosario is also hitting well with a .311 average with nine homeruns. This after a slow start to the season. Last year Rosario hit .321 with 33 homeruns.

In other Eagle news, Tae-Kyun Kim mashed a two run homerun in the first inning in this game to extend his record breaking KBO on base streak to 83 games. He is hitting .377 with a .466 OBA this year. That batting average is second in the league to Dae-Ho Lee who is hitting .385.

The only other foreign battery to win a game in Korea was when Andy Van Hekken pitched to catcher Vinny Rottino.

Kang Loses DUI Appeal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

If anyone was wondering where Pirate third baseman Jung-Ho Kang is he has been in Korea and had been apparently drinking a lot of alcohol during the off season. He was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to eight months in prison. The problem with this most recent DUI was it was his third DUI and there was hit and run involved with a guard rail. He had DUI convictions in 2009 and 2011 and evidently had a reputation in Korea as a party animal. The Pirates were evidently caught by surprise with this information. It certainly does not help future Korean players negotiate contracts with major league teams.

The prison time was suspended, but the felony conviction prevented Kang from getting a work visa. He appealed the conviction, hoping to reduce it to a fine, which would make it easier to get a work visa but that appeal was lost yesterday. Now it is unclear whether he will get a work visa for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019. The Pirates are still working on getting him a visa.

What may not help him is his sexual assault allegation that still hangs around in Chicago. That investigation involves a woman who initially alleged she was drugged and raped. That doesn’t sound like someone I would want in my country, regardless of what country it is if I was the official issuing the work visa. The sexual assault case has not been pursued because the woman has not cooperated with the investigation after the allegations were made. The police investigation for that case remains open as of March 2017 but with Kang still in Korea it may be difficult to pursue.

Even if Kang can return to the United States he could be facing suspensions as a result of the sexual assault allegations and/or drunk driving convictions. Hopefully the party animal has been behaving himself while stranded in Korea. Another bad incident will be a death sentence to his major league career and a bad look for other Korean players looking at the major leagues.

At this point it would be interesting to see if the KBO would allow him to play if he tried to continue his career in Korea if the major league opportunities dry up.

From Worst to First

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

At one point the Samsung Lions were the class of the KBO. From 2011 to 2015 they won the division and went on to win the KBO championship. The cracks began appearing in 2015 after they again won the KBO division for the fifth year in a row in 2015. Three of their players were implicated in gambling violations, former major leaguer and closer Chang-Yong Lim, 17 game winner Sung-Hwan Yun and setup pitcher Ji-Man An. The Lions suspended those players before the playoffs and failed to win a fifth straight championship.

In 2016 they moved into their new stadium. That should have been a reason to celebrate, but the team folded, finishing in ninth place with a .455 winning percentage. They have not finished that low since 1996. The dark clouds of failure were beginning to circle above them.

This year one of the best players in the KBO Seung-Yeop Lee announced this would be his last season. If you combine his Korean numbers with his Japanese numbers he has hit over 600 homeruns. No Korean player has come close to that feat. One would think this would be a reason for the Lions to focus on having a good season, to see off one of the best players in KBO history to a playoff.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. They currently sit in last place with a 5-22-2 record, six games out from the next to last place team the Hanwha Eagles. Bad news continues to filter into their system with the announcement that one of their players was suspended 72 games for a drug violation. It is not often that a player in the KBO is suspended for a drug violation.

The pitching is bad. No team in the KBO has given up more runs than the Lions. Their bats are soft, with only the KT Wiz scorer fewer runs than the Lions 118. Their foreign players have been a bust. Darin Ruf has hit only .179 with three homeruns. One of their pitchers Anthony Renaudo has yet to appear in a game. The one player having a decent season is Zach Petrick, who has a 3.29 ERA in six starts. Anytime you have an ERA less than 4 you are doing good in the KBO.

What makes a team turn around even more difficult are the scandals surrounding Samsung. The company has been implicated with the former President of Korea, with charges of bribery and corruption. It does not appear a quick recovery is on the horizon. Yesterday they lost to the Doosan Bears 17-2, the team that took the championship away from them in 2015. The Bears have also been struggling to stay over .500 in the KBO.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were the champions in the NPB in 2016. They have the best player in the league in Shohei Otani so there was no reason to not expect them to again battle for a championship in 2017. Until their best player injured himself running the bases as a position player and could not take the mound or step to the plate.

The Nippon Ham Fighters are no longer in last place in the Pacific Division. But they are 9-19, which puts them in next to last place only a game ahead of the Chibba Lotte Marines. They defeated the Marines yesterday 6-4 to extricate themselves from last place. They were hoping for a little more production from Brandon Laird, who is struggling early in the season with a .204 average and only seven homeruns. Sho Nakata is another slugger struggling, hitting just .159 with one homerun. Last year Nakata slugged 25 homeruns and drove in 110 runs.

The season is progressing and the Fighters don’t expect to have Otani until June. Once the season ends there is speculation the team may not have him after next year. Otani wants to play in the major leagues. Baseball has a new agreement with the player’s association that appears to limit what Otani can earn if he chooses to play in the major leagues. The major leagues also want to renegotiate the posting system. To win the Fighters need Otani. That may not be their choice.

The Natural Revisted in Korea

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Korea Joongang Daily writes an interesting piece on LG Twins Hyung-Jong Lee who was a star pitcher in high school. After a loss in the high school championship game he was drafted by the LG Twins. That high school loss ate at him and he could never find success as a pitcher. Fortunately for Lee he did not have to get shot to change his career to a hitter, but a few failures along the way careened into his path.

The Twins drafted him in 2008 and paid him a huge six figure bonus ($383,000) to sign as a pitcher. He won his first game as a Twin in 2010 but an elbow injury shortened his career on the mound. While he was rehabilitating Lee was involved in an insubordination incident for a post he made on social media. He announced his retirement and pursued a career as a professional golfer. That career did not last long and he returned to the Twins, this time as a hitter.

In 2016 he hit his first professional KBO homerun. Memories are long in the KBO. Despite the homerun he was sent back down to the equivalent of the minor leagues in Korea. Lee was eventually brought back up but he only got 147 at bats for the year.

Lee is now the leading hitting for the resurging Twins to begin the 2017 season, a Twins team who find themselves in third place in the KBO. At 27 years of age Lee has reinvented himself as a hitter with a .417 batting average and three homeruns. He has also stolen five bases with three homeruns.

Major league fans thought it was a great accomplishment for Rick Ankiel to resurrect his career from pitcher to hitter. Lee has done the same, but early in the 2017 season his .413 batting average trails only Dae-Ho Lee for second in the KBO. Dae-Ho is another player who has returned to Korea after playing a number of years in Japan and the United States.