Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Opening Day in KBO Will See Rotation of Foreign Pitchers

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Don’t know if this is a testament to Korean pitchers, but opening day for the KBO begins Friday and all ten teams will start foreign pitchers to begin the season. Below are the teams and their starters for opening day.

Doosan Bears (Dustin Nippert) vs Hanwha Eagles (Carlos Villanueva)
Nexen Heroes (Andy Van Hekken) vs LG Twins (Henry Sosa)
NC Dinos (Jeff Manship) vs Lotte Giants (Brooks Raley)
SK Wyverns (Merrill Kelly) vs KT Wiz (Donn Roach)
Samsung Lions (Zach Petrick vs Kia Tigers (Hector Noesi)

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings

Israel Downs Netherlands; Korea and Aussies Win

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Since the game did not mean anything it would be difficult to call it an upset. The Netherlands started Rob Cordemans, their hero of many Olympics, World Baseball Cups and World Baseball Classics. The 42 year old lasted just one inning with Israel strafing him for four hits and three runs in their eventual 4-2 win. Nate Frieman hit a double to score one run, Ryan Lavarnway singled to score another. It could have been worse with Israel loading the bases for Scott Burcham who struck out to end the inning.

Israel trotted out nine pitchers for the nine inning game, Jason Marquis finishing the first inning. The strategy seemed to work as the Netherlands bats never found their groove. Jurickson Profar was their only offense, getting three of the five Dutch hits. A Profar double after Randolph Oduber drew a leadoff walk put runners on second and third with one out where a ground ball scored the first run for the Dutch in the third inning.

In the sixth Profar led the inning off with a double but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Israel scored in the bottom frame to pull ahead 4-1, taking advantage of an error, walk and hit by pitch to load the bases with no out. A ground out double play got two outs but a run scored.

The best opportunity Netherlands had to win the game was in the eighth when an error and two walks loaded the bases. Another error cut the lead to 4-2, keeping the bases loaded with one out. Didi Gregorius grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The Dutch also saved their pitching staff throwing seven different pitchers. Josh Zeid was the most worked Israeli pitcher, the manager calling on him to get five outs. Attendance was listed at 2,700. Both Israel and Netherlands advance to the second round.

Korea 11 Taiwan 8

The two Asian teams battled it out in an important game that did not have playoff implications but the winner got an automatic bid for the next WBC, if there is one and the loser had to qualify. The Korean bats finally came alive for the 11-8 win, scoring three in the tenth inning to secure the victory. Tae-Kyun Kim mashed a two run homer to close out the three run tenth.

Korea had jumped out to an early 6-0 lead but Taiwan battled back with three in the bottom of the second. Pitching was non-existent for the first four innings with Korea leading 8-5 at that point. The Korean bats quieted the next five innings while Taiwan scored three to send it into the tenth.

Korea relied on Seung-Hwan Oh to pitch the last two innings to capture the win. When rosters were being considered Korean fans did not want Oh on the roster because of his implications to overseas gambling. Oh is currently under suspension if he wants to ever come back to the KBO to finish his career.

Australia 11 China 0

Australia kept their hopes of advancing to the first round with a 11-0 clobbering of China. This sets up a final match with Cuba with the winner advancing to the second round. Travis Blackley allowed just two hits in his 4.2 innings of work. The game ended after eight when Australia scored four runs on a James Beresford grand slam.

Ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes had a big bat for Australia with two hits and four RBIs, including a two run homer in the third. James Beresford walked three times to allow him to score three runs and Brad Harman also scored three runs. China has yet to score a run in these games, their offense only accumulating just six hits. Their final game is against Japan, who has already clinched a first seed advancement to the second round. China has no hope of finishing away from the basement and will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Only 3,013 attended the game between Australia and China.

Israel Blasts Taiwan; Japan and Netherlands also Win

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In the professional league in Taiwan (CPBL) the teams are allowed to sign three foreign players. Those three foreign players are usually starting pitchers. When the season starts the four CBL’s four professional teams have three of their five or six starting pitchers filled by foreigners, leaving little opportunity for Taiwan pitchers to develop. That was on full display yesterday with Israel battering Taiwan 15-7, collecting 20 hits. Israel scored at least one run against each pitcher Taiwan threw out to the mound except Chen-Hua Lin, who only got two outs but still gave up two hits. Even ex-major leaguer Fu-Te Ni was banged around for three runs while he could only retire one hitter.

Meanwhile, Corey Baker, a non-descript minor leaguer who has only gotten six starts in AAA shut out Taiwan for four plus innings, allowing just three hits. Israel pounced on Taiwan starter Chun-Lin Kuo for six hits and four runs in the first inning as he was only able to retire two hitters. Ike Davis and Tyler Krieger each had two run singles to fuel the offense in the opening frame.

Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run homer in the third to up the Israel lead to 6-0. Taiwan made it a game with three runs in the sixth. Chih-Sheng Lin drove in the first two runs with a double. A sacrifice fly by Yi-Chuan Lin scored the third run to make it 6-3.

The hope for a comeback was only brief as Israel pulled away with five runs in the seventh. Nate Frieman and Tyler Krieger drove in runs with a single and Scott Burcham bunted for a single to score one run with two additional runs scoring when the ball was thrown away.

Nate Freiman hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the ninth to close out the scoring for Israel. Taiwan pushed across four runs in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game respectable. Only 3,287 were in attendance for the game. Israel has virtually assured themselves a spot in the second round.

Japan 11 Cuba 7

They say most of the good Cuban pitchers have left the island. This appeared quite evident with Japan’s 11-7 thrashing of Cuba. A five run fifth put them up 7-1. Nobuhiro Matsuda blasted a three run homer to left field to account for most of the runs.

Cuba would fight back, scoring three in the seventh, Alfredo Despaigne hitting a solo shot and Guillermo Aviles slashing a two run single to pull Cuba to within 7-4. Japan responded with two in the bottom frame, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo slugging a two run homer to extend the lead to 9-4.

Cuba scored two in the top of the eighth after a two run double by Yurisbel Gracial. Japan responded again with two in the bottom frame on a Nobuhiro Matsuda RBI single and a Seiji Kobayashi sacrifice fly.

In the top of the ninth Cuba put their first two runners on base and were able to load the bases with two outs and their big hitter Alfredo Despaigne at the plate. Kazuhisa Makita was able to strike him out to end the game.

Japan hitters were able to score at least one run against all the Cuban pitchers thrown out there. Noelvis Entenza got the start for Cuba but lasted only 1.1 innings after giving up four hits. Cuban managers are infamous for pulling their pitchers early. Ayumu Ishikawa worked four innings for Japan, allowing just one run on two hits.

A good crowd of 44,908 were at the game to watch the Japanese victory.

Netherlands 5 South Korea 0

The Korean bats were absent a second straight day. Coming into the WBC the Korean manager was worried about their pitching, but it is their bats that have failed them. Korea has only scored one run in two games. Rick Vandenhurk getting the start and leading the charge with four shutout innings. Four different pitchers completed the shutout with Diegomar Markwell going two innings and 7′1″ Loek van Mil closing it out in the ninth. Korea could manage only six hits.

Jurickson Profar got the offense started early with a two run homer in the first inning, rewarding the leadoff single from Andrelton Simmons. Kyu-Min Woo got the start for Korea. He gave up an Andrelton Simmons RBI double in the second and was gone after two outs in the third inning, giving up three runs on six hits.

The Dutch extended the lead in the sixth after a two run homer from Randolph Oduber to make it 5-0. Korea failed to advance a runner past second base, grounding into three double plays.

No attendance figures were given on the game. Netherlands next plays Taiwan and a win would virtually clinch both Israel and Netherlands advancing to the second round, making the next two games meaningless, though Israel and Netherlands would be playing for seeding.

Israel Shocks South Korea in WBC Opener

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The manager for South Korea stated he feared Israel prior to their WBC opener. That fear proved founded after Israel downed South Korea 2-1 last night. Scott Burcham made amends for an earlier strikeout that spoiled a rally by bouncing a single up the middle for an infield single that scored the go ahead run in the tenth inning. Josh Zeid came on for his third inning of work and retired South Korea in order, striking out the last two hitters to close out the victory.

Walks killed South Korea. A leadoff walk to Nate Freiman in the second inning led to the first run for Israel. Zach Borenstein moved Freiman to third with a double. Korean pitcher Won-Jun Chang struck out Cody Decker, but then he walked the next two hitters to force in a run. A strikeout and ground out limited the damage to just one run.

A walk to Ike Davis in the tenth inning led to the winning run scoring. Chang-Yong Lim issued that walk. A Ryan Lavarnway single moved Davis to third where he was replaced by pinch runner Mike Meyers. After a pop out Burcham came through with his single to put Israel up for good.

Korea tied the game in the fifth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and hit be pitch to lead off the inning. Geon-Chang Seo bounced a single into left field to score Kyoung-Min Hur to tie the game. Two popups stunted the rally from going further.

Both teams had chances to score in the later innings to prevent the game from going into extra innings. Singles by Ah-Seop Son and Eui-Ji Yang put runners on first and second with one out. Kyoung-Min Hur grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the eighth inning a walk to Tae-Kyun Kim and single by Ah-Seop Son put runners on first and third with one out. Byung-Hun Min grounded to third. Pinch runner Jae-Won Oh broke for home but was thrown out. Eui-Ji Yang popped out to end the threat.

In the seventh Israel loaded the bases with just one out. Blake Gailen lined out to shortstop. Israel loaded the bases again in the eighth after a walk, double and intentional walk. A ground out third to home got the second out bringing on Seung-Hwan Oh. He struck out Scott Burcham to end the inning.

There were 15,470 who watched the game at Gocheok Sky Dome, a facility that can hold 22,000. Korea has had a number of injuries to decimate their roster as well as DUIs against Jung-Ho Kang that forced the team to take him off the roster. Perhaps the Korean baseball fans were not interested in watching Israel, or they have become disillusioned by all the press reports of injuries to the Korean team that they lost interest in the WBC. It is disappointing that it was not a sellout, unless 15,470 is capacity for baseball at Gocheok Sky Dome.

Israel next plays Taiwan. A win would guarantee them an advance to the second round. South Korea will play Netherlands. A loss would eliminate them from advancing to the second round, unless two other teams go 1-2.

Baseball World Cup Under 18 Pools Determined

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Baseball World Cup Under 18 tournament will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada from September 1-10. Nine of the top ten ranked countries will be participating in the event, with only Venezuela the lone top ten country not participating.

There will be two groups of six, who will play a round robin. The top three finishers will then advance to the second round, where each of the three teams will carry their record with them to the new pool and play the three teams advancing from the other pool. The two teams with the best record will play for the gold medal while the third and fourth best record will battle for the bronze.

Group A

Canada (9), South Korea (3), Taiwan (4), Australia (10), Italy (11), Nicaragua (16)

Group B

United States (2), Japan (1), Cuba (5), Mexico (6), Netherlands (9), South Africa (28)

The United States has won this event the last three years. The All tournament team from the last Under 18 tournament included first round draft pick Josh Naylor from Canada and the recently defected potential superstar from Cuba Luis Robert. Blake Retherford, the first round pick of the Yankees made the team as an outfielder. There was a Cuban player named Jose Garcia who made it as a second baseman, but do not know if that was Jose Adolis Garcia, the brother of Adonis who recently defected.

Luis Robert hit .406 with two homeruns and 11 RBIs with three doubles, three triples and four stolen bases at the event.

KBO Average Salary Reaches All Time High

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Playing baseball is becoming a worthwhile endeavor in Korea. The average salary for a Korean ballplayer has risen to $209,305 according to Yonhap. That is still below the major league minimum. Foreign players are not included in this average since they are paid in U.S. dollars.

The highest paid player is Dae-Ho Lee, who played in Japan and last year played one season for the Seattle Mariners. The Lotte Giants are paying him over $2 million a year to put on their uniform this year, man first base and hit a few balls over the fence. This also makes Lee the highest paid professional athlete in Korea. Who says soccer is king?

Among foreign players Dustin Nippert is the highest paid at $2.1 million. That is the highest salary ever paid for a foreign player, or at least one that is recognized in the books.

Korea - 2017 WBC Review

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Overview - This may be a tough year for Korea. A number of injuries to their local stars and injuries or reluctance of major league teams to have their Korean players participate in the WBC has impacted the quality of talent on the roster. One player Jung-Ho Kang was removed from the roster because of multiple DUI offenses, one involving a hit and run.

Korea has always played second fiddle to Japan for baseball supremacy in Asia. In the Asian baseball championships Japan has dominated, allowing Korea with an occasional gold medal to keep their interest in the competition. The last Asian championship in 2015 Korea won the gold medal. They have also had some success in other international events that have put the spot light on them as a team to watch.

The biggest event that catapulted them to prominence was probably the 2008 Olympics. This was two years after the 2006 WBC when they surprised the world by going undefeated in the first two pools before losing in the semi final round to Japan 6-0. It left a bitter taste in Korea’s mouth after they had defeated Japan twice to have to settle for third place after only one loss in the tournament.

In what was thought to be the last Olympics for baseball Korea again ran through their competition in pool play with a 7-0 record. They defeated the United States 8-7 with two runs in the final frame to win the game, Dae-Ho Lee hitting a homerun in the game. Hyun-Jin Roo was the winning pitcher as they shutout Canada 1-0 and Dae-Ho Lee hit his second homerun of the event in their 5-3 victory over Japan. Of their seven wins, four were by one run.

In the semi-finals South Korea shocked Japan again 6-2. Hyun-Jin Ryu got the start against Cuba and Seung-yeop Lee hit his second homerun of the Olympics and South Korea won another one run ball game, defeating Cuba 3-2 to win the gold medal. South Korea had made a statement to the baseball world that they were a force to contend with.

In the old baseball world cups Korea got their ascension to prominence with a bronze medal finish in 1978, their first baseball medal in international competition. They improved to a silver in the next baseball world cup in 1980 and then won the gold medal in 1982. The 1982 gold medal was tainted by the fact the best team in the world, Cuba did not participate in this event. After that Korea won a bronze in 1990 and silvers in 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2005. The reward for many of these players was an exemption from the compulsory military service all Korean males have to complete in their youth.

Korea continued their success in the 2009 World Baseball Classic winning pool A and finishing second in the second round to advance to the semifinals. There they walloped Venezuela 10-2 to play Japan in the championship match, a team they had already beaten twice in the tournament and lost to once. Japan defeated them in the finals in 10 innings 5-3. This was just another untimely loss in the life of baseball for Korea.

Korea stumbled in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, failing to get past Taiwan and Netherlands, with the three tied for first place at 2-1. South Korean fans felt a little ripped off not being allowed to advance after only losing one game. They got a measure of revenge in the Premier 12 where they got past the first round despite losses to Japan and the United States. In the single elimination playoff stage they eliminated Cuba, upset Japan and then knocked off a team of minor leaguers from the United States 8-0 to win the gold medal.

Now they are hosting the first round of the WBC in a brand new state of the art stadium. It will be a tough pool with Taiwan, Israel and the Netherlands in it. One interesting note about the Korean team - their manager does not want to use the designated pitcher pool. He will win with the 28 players currently on the roster.

International Ranking - Korea is currently ranked third, fueled by their recent gold medal victory in the Premier 12. The Netherlands will be their toughest test despite their ninth place ranking, but this team has a bevy of major leaguers on their roster. Taiwan, who is ranked fourth is another tough test. Israel is ranked 41st, but that is a bit misleading since their roster is sprinkled with players who have major league experience.

Roster

Pitchers - Woo-Chan Cah, Won-Jun Chang, Si-Hwan Jang, Hyun-Seung Lee, Chang-Yong Lim, Jung-Woo Lim, Seung-Hwan Oh, Hee-Soo Park, Dae-Eun Rhee, Chang-Min Sim, Jong-Hyun Won, Kyu-Min Woo, Hyeon-Jong Yang

Catchers - Tae-Gun Kim, Eui-Ji Yang

Infielders - Kyoung-Min Hur, Ha-Seong Kim, Jae-Ho Kim, Tae-Kyun Kim, Dae-Ho Lee, Jae-Won Oh, Sok-Min Park, Geon-Chang Seo

Outfielders - Hyun-Wook, Choi, Yong-Kyu Lee, Byung-Hun Min, Kun-Woo Park, Ah-Seop Son

Strengths - The one major leaguer they have is Seung-Hwan Oh, the closer for the St Louis Cardinals. Oh was also a closer in Japan. There was some controversy about including him on the roster because of his affiliation with gamblers. If he comes back to the KBO to finish out his career he will have to serve a suspension because of the violation. Dae-Ho Lee played in the major leagues last year but signed a lucrative contract to return to Korea. He played a few years in Japan but in his early years he was one of the most prolific homerun hitters in baseball. Lee holds the international baseball record for most consecutive games with a homerun with nine. Geon-chang Seo is the only Korean player to finish with 200 hits in a season. He will play second base for the Koreans. Offense tends to reign supreme in the KBO so offensive numbers have to be taken lightly, but the power source for Korea appears to be Sok-Min Park who hit 32 homeruns. He will handle third for Korea. Tae-Kyun Kim was second in hitting at .365 in the KBO. His defense is limited to DH or pinch hitting.

Weakness - The starting pitching may be better than given credit for because of the offensive oriented KBO. Hyun-Jong Yang was the only Korean pitcher to reach 200 innings with a 3.68 ERA. Woo-Chan Cha will be their other ace. The fact that a number of their players who left for the major leagues such as Shin-soo Choo, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hyun-Soo Kim, Jung-Ho Park and Byung-Ho Park are not playing for the team because of their need to fight for roster spots decreases the quality of the team. Even the recently signed San Francisco Giant third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang is not on the roster.

Prospects to Watch - This is an older team. Some of the younger players such as Ha-Seong Kim myworld does not know enough about to comment.

Expected Finish - Myworld thinks the Koreans have enough to escape into the second round, but that is probably as far as they get.

World Port Tournament to Include Cuba

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

The World Port tournament, which is held every other year in the Netherlands will include Japan, Korea, Curacao, Netherlands and Cuba as the participants in 2017. The dates are scheduled for July 1-9 in Rotterdam at Family Stadium.

Japan and Korea traditionally fill their rosters with college and Independent League players. Cuba usually brings a national team, but their league has been watered down with defections to the major leagues. The team that represents Cuba are normally younger players who have potential for future national team representation. There is always a defection or two after the tournament. The Netherlands usually fields a strong team composed of their players from their national team. Curacao fills its rosters with players from the island who are playing in the Dutch League.

Cuba won the tournament in 2015. The Netherlands hopes to avenge that championship loss. The three other teams will be fillers who hope to spoil another Cuba/Netherlands championship series.

Dae-Ho Returns to Korea but Hwang Departs

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Dae-Ho Lee decided it was better to go back home and play as a regular in Korea than to continue to pursue a major league career that was only offering him a part time opportunity. A record KBO contract of $12.9 million over four years offered by the Lotte Giants was a nice inducement. The Lotte Giants have not been a player in the post season for a long time but it is hoped with the return of Lee they can regain some of their playoff magic back in the day when Lee was one of the top sluggers in the KBO.

On the other side of the ledger the Lotte Giants lost a third baseman, losing Jae-gyun Hwang to the San Francisco Giants. That contract is for a little less money, $1.5 million if Hwang should make the major league roster. The Lotte Giants and KT Wiz in the KBO reportedly offered him more money to stay in Korea, but he took the lesser contract for the opportunity to play major league baseball. Last year he was posted by the Lotte Giants but did not receive an acceptable offer from a major league club to cut him loose. This year he was an unrestricted free agent and improved numbers (.335, .394, .570 with 27 homeruns) got major league teams more interested in him.

Hwang will be competing with Eduardo Nunez and Connor Gillespie for the third base job. Neither Nunez or Gillespie put up eye shattering numbers to guarantee them a starting position.