The Natural Revisted in Korea

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.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.