Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Credit Padres Acquisition of Kim to Park

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Myworld did not realize the Padres have legendary Korean pitcher Park Chan-Ho as an advisor for their team. He participated in the negotiations for the Padres in their acquisition of Kim Ha-Seong. That had to make the Padres the favorite to sign Kim, no matter how many dinners Ryu Hyun-jin bought Kim to try to convince him to play for Toronto.

Park is a legend in Korea. He pitched for the Padres in 2005 and 2006. His 124 wins in the major leagues are still the most for any Asian born pitcher. He first signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994 before ever playing in the Korean professional league. Once his major league career ended he pitched two years in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes and finally made his Korean debut in 2011, pitching one year for the Hanwha Eagles. After his one year with Hanwha he retired from baseball in 2012.

The contract for Kim does not allow the Padres to send him to the minor leagues without his consent for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Padres and Heroes Exchange Late Christmas Present

Friday, January 1st, 2021

The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization posted Ha-Seong Kim to allow major league baseball teams to negotiate a contract. The San Diego Padres won out, signing Kim to a four year $28 million contract. A fifth year mutual option could up that total to $39 million. The Padres get a talented player who could fill a valuable utility role in their playoff hopes. The Heroes get a $5.25 million posting fee to scout for another Kim or sign a top foreign player to a contract.

For those who follow the KBO, Kim is the player who replaced Jung-Ho Kang at shortstop after Kang signed with the Pirates. The deal worked out well for the Pirates for two years until drunken driving issues ruined his career. The Heroes were able to replace Kang with Kim and as a 20 year old shortstop he had a pretty good season (.290, 19, 73).

Next year the Heroes will replace Kim at shortstop with another Kim, Hye-Sung Kim. The 21 year old Hye-Sung played in a utility role last year for the Heroes, hitting .285 with seven homeruns and 61 RBIs. This is his fourth year in the KBO and it was about time the Heroes gave him a starting spot. The Heroes lose some power with the loss of Ha-Seong, but they hope to make up for that by investing the $5 million for a top foreign contract.

The Padres infield appears to be crowded with Manny Machado at third, Fernando Tatis Jr. at short, Jake Cronenworth at second and Eric Hosmer at first. In a 162 game season injuries happen and players need rest so Kim should be able to play in more than 120 games. There is also talk of using either Kim or Cronenworth in the outfield. Cronenworth also played a lot of first base when Hosmer got injured so he could possibly be tried out in the outfield and used at first base, allowing Kim to play second.

The Padres saw what the Dodgers did with their roster, using a couple players to fill in at multiple positions to either replace an injured player or give regular rest to their regulars to keep them fresh. The Padres could have the same plan for either Kim or Cronenworth, or possibly both. Spring training will ultimately define both players roles for the 2021 season.

KBO Golden Gloves

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

The Korean Baseball Organization issued their Golden Glove awards. These are not for the best fielders at each position. These are given to the best player at each position. Not including foreign players, one player selected was an ex-major leaguer. Another is a player who has been posted who hopes to become a major leaguer. Two players are future superstars in the KBO who would make solid major leaguers and would fill top 50 prospect lists in the United States if they were in the minor leagues.

The Wiz led all teams with three players selected. They finished second in the KBO standings but lost to the Bears in the playoffs. The champion NC Dinos and the fifth place Kiwoom Heroes had two each. The former defending champion Doosan Bears, the LG Twins and the Kia Tigers had one each. The Lotte Giants, Samsung Lions, SK Wyverns and Hanwha Eagles did not have a player represented on the Golden Gloves team.

Below is the KBO Golden Glove team.

Catcher - Yang Eui-ji (Dinos) .328, 33, 124

First Base - Kang Baek-ho (Wiz) .330, 23, 89

Second Base - Park Min-woo (Dinos) .345, 8, 63

Third Base - Hwang Jae-gyun (Wiz) .312, 21, 97

Shortstop - Kim Ha-Seong (Heroes) .306, 30, 109

Outfield - Mel Rojas (Wiz) .349, 47, 135, Kim Hyun-soo (Twins) .331, 22, 119, Lee Jung-hoo (Heroes) .333, 15, 101

Designated Hitter - Choi Hyoung-woo (Tigers) .354, 28, 115

Pitcher - Raul Alcantara (Bears) 20-2, 2.54

Mel Rojas Jr. Gets Big Pay Day in Japan

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Mel Rojas Jr. could not make a major league roster. He was signed by a Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) team where he shined for three years, winning MVP last year after hitting 47 homeruns and driving in 135 runs. The Hanshin Tigers in Japan have rewarded him for his efforts, signing him to a contract that is worth an estimated $5 million over two years with $500,000 in incentives for each year of the deal.

Major league teams and other Japanese teams such as the Yomiuri Giants were also interested in signing Rojas. The major league teams were not close to reaching the $5 million that Hanshin reportedly gave Rojas. The Giants may have had foreign roster limits that may have made it difficult to sign Rojas for that kind of money. Any KBO team could not financially afford such a large contract. So Rojas Jr. has seen his big pay day, after going from the United States, to Korea to Japan.

Eric Thames is another ex KBO player that put up similar numbers as Rojas in the KBO and also winning MVP honors. He returned to the major leagues, signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming a free agent after disappointing seaons and then signing with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals did not sign him after this season after he put up disappointing numbers. Thames has not put up the numbers in the major leagues that he put up in the KBO, which could have been a reason any contract offers did not match the Hanshin Tigers.

Mel Rojas Jr. is the son of ex-major leaguer Mel Rojas. He was a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 2010.

Mel Rojas Voted KBO MVP

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

The KT Wiz Mel Rojas has been voted the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) MVP after leading the league with 47 homeruns and 135 RBIs with a .349 batting average. He would have won the Triple Crown, but he finished third in batting average. The 30 year old Rojas is a free agent and has gotten interest from major league teams and teams in Japan.

The NC Dinos catcher Yang Eui-ji finished second in the voting while the Doosan Bears pitcher Raul Alcantara finished third. Alcantara has already been voted as the best pitcher in the KBO.

Rojas teammate So Hyeong-jun was voted Rookie of the Year. The 19 year old righthander finished 13-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 starts. The 13 wins were the most by a Korean pitcher last year, tied with the SK Wyverns Park Jong-hun. The runner up for the award was the LG Twins Hong Chang-Ki.

Last year the Wiz made the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history, finishing with a record 81 wins.

Dinos to Post Na

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The NC Dinos will post one of my favorite players in the KBO, Sung-Bum Na. You can sing the ending of the Beatles song “Hey Jude” to his last name in celebration.

The two concerns with Na. The first concern is a serious knee injury cut short his 2019 season. Up to that point he had been a pretty decent defensive outfielder with a strong arm. After the surgery he did not spend as much time in the outfield, playing a lot of DH. Teams looking for an outfielder may want to take a look at his outfield play to see if it is major league caliber. He also played some first base in the KBO last year, so that is a possibility.

The second concern is an increase in strikeouts. The 148 were the most in his career. The upside is that his power numbers were better, with his .596 slugging percentage the second best of his career. He also did not suffer too much from his batting average (.324) and OBA (.390), both numbers above his career average. What also has to be taken into account is that his offensive numbers early in his career were inflated by a livelier ball. The KBO has changed to a ball with a little less jump to it and the offensive numbers have leveled off.

What is not in doubt with Na is his ability to hit. The walk to whiff ratio tends to be about three whiffs to every walk, which can be a concern because it can get exploited by major league pitchers. But his run production is not questioned. Last year he drove in 112 runs. He was just as menacing in the playoffs, driving in six runs in the one championship series the Dinos played. So the man can hit. Whether he can play a high level defense in the outfield is open to debate.

Dinos Capture Korean Series for First Time

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

The most recent expansion team, the NC Dinos have won the Korean Series after their 4-2 win over the defending champion Doosan Bears. It is also a bit of revenge for 2016 when the Doosan Bears swept the Dinos to win the championship.
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Again, the Dinos got stellar pitching, this time from Drew Rucinski, who tossed five innings of shutout ball. Mike Wright came on in the sixth and shutout the Bears for one more inning to extend the shutout streak to 25 innings. The Bears finally broke the ice in the seventh after two hit by pitches started off the inning. A ground out scored one run and a Kim Jae-ho double drove in the second run for the Bears, but by then the Bears were already down by four runs.

Korean pitcher of the year Raul Alcantara shut down the Dinos through the first four innings. A two out rally in the fifth nicked him for one run. Three straight singles, the last one by Lee Myung-gi made it 1-0. The Dinos pulled away in the sixth with three runs. Park Suk-min had an RBI single to score Aaron Altherr, who had doubled. Two walks loaded the bases with two outs to set the stage for a clutch two run single from Park Min-woo.

Song Myung-gi pitched a perfect eighth and Won Jong-hyun threw a perfect ninth to seal the first Korean Series title by the Dinos.

Dinos with Back to Back Shutouts

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

After back to back shutouts the NC Dinos are one win away from taking the Korean Series over defending champion the Doosan Bears. This time it was the Korean lefty Koo Chang-mo who hurled seven shutout innings to lead the Dinos to a 5-0 win. Koo was the top pitcher in the KBO until a fractured elbow forced him to miss most of the second half of the season. He appears to be healthy now.

Chris Flexen took the loss for the Bears. He matched Koo goose egg for goose egg until his broke in the fifth. A lead off walk to No Jin-hyuk ultimately allowed No to score on a one out single from Aaron Altherr. Flexen was done after six, victimized in the next inning on a Yang Eui-ji two run homer.

The Dinos scored their last two runs in the seventh taking advantage of two walks. Mo Chang-min hit a pinch hit two out RBI single to score one and Na Sung-bum singled to score the final run. For Na, he now has six RBIs in the Series.

Koo allowed five hits and got into trouble only once. In the second inning a walk and a double put runners on second and third with just one out. Koo enticed a popup and ground out to get out of the inning. Otherwise he did not allow another runner to reach third, giving up five hits and two walks, but striking out five.

The last two games will be played at the NC Dinos park. The Dinos lead the Series three games to two.

Dinos Shutout Bears to Even the Series

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Twenty year old Song Myung-gi and Drew Rucinski combined for 7.2 shutout innings to lead the NC Dinos to a 3-0 lead over the Doosan Bears. Rucinski, normally a starter, pitched the last 2.2 innings to earn the save, retiring eight of the nine hitters he faced, with one batter getting on via an error. Song, at twenty years old pitched probably the biggest game of his life, allowing just two hits and two walks.

The Bears got five strong innings from 21 year old Kim Min-gyu, but the Dinos got to him in the sixth for two runs. Yang Eui-ji drove in the first run with an RBI single. The Bears could only manage three hits, all of them by shortstop Kim Jae-ho, who drove in five runs in the last two games for the Bears.

The Dinos scored the second run of the sixth inning after an error by the right fielder allowed Yang to advance to second and a wild pitch moved him to third. Kang Jin-sung drove him in with a singe to left center. Ji Suk-hoon drove in the final run in the ninth on an RBI double.

Bears Win Game Three

Friday, November 20th, 2020

Kim Jae-ho was a big contributor in the Doosan Bears 5-4 game two win over the NC Dinos, driving in two runs. Yesterday the shortstop drove in three and went a perfect 2 for 2 with two walks in the Bears 7-6 win. He walked and scored in the second inning, drove in two with a single in the third and drove in what proved to be the go ahead run in the seventh with a single.

Mike Wright was drummed out of the game in the third before he could get anyone out. He was responsible for giving up five runs in just two innings of work. Bears starting pitcher Choi Won-Joon at least retired two hitters in the third before he got chased. He was tagged with giving up three runs in 2.2 innings.

The Dinos scored first on a Na Sung-bum solo homerun with two outs in the first inning. Jose Miguel Fernandez responded by leading off the bottom of the second with a homerun. After the homerun Kim walked, then circled the bases after a Oh Jae-il double and a ground out to give the Bears a 2-1 lead.

The Dinos recaptured the lead in the third after two singles and a bunt put runners on second and third with one out. A sacrifice fly by Na scored one and a passed ball scored another to give the Dinos a 3-2 lead. The Bears bounced back in the bottom half after a lead off triple by Jung Soo-bin and an infield singe by Choi Joo-hwan. Kim drove in the last two runs with a single.

In the see saw game that it was the Dinos recaptured the lead in the fourth, Lee Myung-gi driving in one run with a single and Na Sung-bum driving in two with a single. For Na he finished the game with four RBIs.

A couple Dino errors allowed the Bears to tie the score 6-6. Jung Soo-bin bunted for a hit to lead off the fifth, advanced to second on an errant pick off throw, moved to third on a ground out and then scored after an error by shortstop No Jin-hyuk.

In the seventh a hit batsman, stolen base and wild pitch put a runner on third, giving Kim an opportunity to single up the gut for his third RBI of the game and a 7-6 Bears lead. Lee Seung-jin was able to retire the final four hitters to pick up the save.

Despite scratching out 13 hits the Dinos fell one run short of taking the lead in the series. They now trail the Bears two games to one. The Bears have won the last two games.