Archive for Guest Columns

The following is a guest post from Sung-Min Kim, who has also written guest posts about Kei Igawa and Hyo-Jun Park.

Kim at the 2014 Asian Games last month. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

Kim at the 2014 Asian Games last month. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

According to Eun-Byul Park of eDailyStar, left-handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim of the SK Wyverns in Korea will have a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the “pursuit of going over to the Major Leagues.” The article also states that the Wyverns’ general manager and main representative will also be present. All signs point to the team posting their star pitcher.

Kim, 26, is one of the most popular players in the Korean Baseball Organization. He was drafted by the Wyverns in the first round in 2006. By the end of 2007, Kim had already posted 3.62 ERA in 77 IP as a 19-year old. His rise is very storied among Korean fans. The Wyverns were down 1-2 to the Doosan Bears in the Korean Series and the manager decided to start the teenager to save their season. The starter for the Bears was one-time Yankee Danny Rios, who later went on to win the league MVP after having a phenomenal season with 2.07 ERA in 234 IP and 22 wins. Undaunted by the task, Kim threw a 7.1 IP gem with only one hit allowed while striking out 9, earning the win for the Wyverns that later went on to win the Korean Series title. Here’s a Korean television segment about the fateful game.

From 2008 to 2010, his ages 20 to 22 seasons, Kim rivaled Hyun-Jin Ryu as the most talented young lefty in the nation. He went 16-4 with 2.39 ERA in 27 starts in 2008, winning the league MVP, the gold medal for Team Korea in the Beijing Olympics, and another Korean Series trophy as the Wyverns won consecutive titles. He went 12-2 with 2.80 ERA in 2009 and 17-7, 2.37 ERA in 193.2 IP in 2010 (and another Wyverns title). By the end of 2010, there wasn’t much doubt about his place as one of the best lefties in the history of Korean baseball. However, starting in 2011, Kim became plagued by slumps and injuries. From 2011 to 2013, he posted 4.84, 4.30 and 4.47 ERAs, respectively, with worse control (4.64 BB/9 from 2011-13 as opposed to 3.64 BB/9 in 2008-2010) and strikeout numbers (7.10 K/9 from 2011-13 as opposed to 8.11 K/9 from 2008-10).

The 2014 season was not his best year, however he came back as a healthy, full-time starter who finished second in the league in ERA (3.42) and home run rate (0.52 HR/9) and seventh in strikeout rate (7.51 K/9). His fastball hit as high as 96 mph, which is around where he topped when he was a younger ace. His 3.42 ERA in 173.2 IP may not be impressive for a pitcher that is pitching at a well-below NPB’s level, but KBO experienced a historical offensive explosion this summer.  The ex-San Francisco and Lotte Giant Ryan Sadowski describes it the best:

“As of September 10th, we have seen 5,762 runs scored over the course of 505 games. There have been about 11.4 runs scored per game or 5.7 runs scored per team. We have witnessed about a 40% increase in runs scored from the 2012 season. We have also seen 1,047 home runs during the 505 games that have been played.  In 2014, we have seen an 80% increase in homeruns produced in comparison to the 2012 season.”

That is insane. There were only SIX starters in KBO with ERA under 4.00 and Kim is the only Korean-born pitcher in that group. The other five: Rick VandenHurk (3.18), Andy Van Hekken (3.51 and the first 20-game winner in KBO since Rios), Charlie Shirek (3.81), Dustin Nippert (3.81) and Cory Riordan (3.96).

A huge knock on Kim’s 2014 numbers is that his walk rate remained mediocre at 4.20 BB/9. There have been Asian imports, or just pitchers in general, that had less-than-ideal control and pitched decently in Majors, but for every Kaz Ishii there are names like Kei Igawa and Ryota Igarashi — pitchers you did not want anywhere near the 40-man roster. The lefty was also one of the luckiest pitchers with runners on base: 74.6 LOB% is the second in league (though one can argue that Kim bumps up his velocity a notch in dicier situations). I would say this video summarizes Kim’s season in a nutshell: showing some control hiccups to get into trouble but using his upside to get outs and out of the trouble.

My assessment: I do not see Kim being a full-time starter in the Majors unless there is a major improvement in command. It would be a wishful thinking for him to be an “effectively wild” pitcher a la early-2002 Kaz Ishii. I don’t know if Kim would post walk rates as abysmal as Ishii’s (6.19 and 6.18 BB/9 in his first two seasons with the Dodgers) but what mattered was that he was a pitcher expected to start in every five games for three Major League seasons. I think a lot of Korean baseball fans would more than gladly take that for Kwang-Hyun Kim.

If Kim were to sign with an ML team, it’s because they would be sold by his stuff. His fastball usually plays around high-80’s-to-low-90’s. He is able to bump it up to mid-90’s but don’t expect a first-grade heat from the lefty. According to a big league scout quoted in Global Sports Integration, Kim has “big league stuff. Definitely a big league slider.” The scout adds “Kim’s raw stuff is electric. If he were a raw prospect with low mileage, he would be the best prospect in Asia. But he has injury history and isn’t 21 years old.”

Some fans may remember RHP Suk-Min Yoon, who signed a ML contract with the Baltimore Orioles in the previous winter. The deal, however, has not gone well at all for the Birds. Yoon, who was also one of the best young starters in KBO along with Kim and Ryu, was trending downwards with health and performance when he signed with Baltimore. Ryu, who had showed endurance in Korea, came off one of his best seasons in 2012 before he signed with the Dodgers. Kim, I would say, is somewhere in between those two. He has his share of injury history but he’s trending upwards in stock – definitely not at Ryu’s level but enough to maybe give some team to take a flier or two.

As for the Yankees, I doubt that they will look at Kim as a rotation option. First off, there are other names in the free agency that could possibly woo the team to spend bigger money on (Jon Lester, James Shields, Brandon McCarthy, etc.). The team also has in-house rotation candidates and pieces that delegitimize a need for a risky signing like Kim. There have been reports that Yankee scouts have checked on him and some think a posting fee between “$10 to 12 million” is “not a stretch.” But then again, I will believe what the ML teams actually think of his value when I see it. All indications say Kim will be posted and it will be interesting to see how a pitcher from Korea with less-than-optimal history would be seen among the teams.

A guest post from our friends at TiqIQ:

The end is near, for both the 2014 Yankees and the career of The Captain. With playoff hopes dwindling, the Yankees will host their final homestand of the season over the next week, playing four games each with the Blue Jays and the recently crowned AL East champion Baltimore Orioles. Like with Mariano Rivera’s retirement last season, there will be a known finality with the Yankees unlikely to claim a postseason spot. Derek Jeter has had a forgettable season statistically, but his final game at Yankee Stadium has already generated astronomical secondary market prices for New York Yankees tickets in the Bronx for Thursday’s game against Baltimore.

As Jeter says goodbye to the Yankee faithful one week from yesterday, the game will serve as the most expensive regular season game in Major League Baseball this season. According to TiqIQ, the average price for Jeter’s final home game on September 25 is currently $668.94 on the secondary market. The team’s second most expensive remaining home game on Monday pales in price comparison to next Thursday’s game. At $104.12, Monday’s game against the Orioles is nearly 85% less expensive than the final game at Yankee Stadium this season. Thursday’s average price is 542% above the series opener against the Orioles on Monday.

On top of its extreme secondary market average, the final regular season game at Yankee Stadium currently has a get-in price of $212, making even the minimum ticket price to the game 103% higher than the second most expensive game’s average on Monday. Such high prices for the final game makes the other remaining seven home games seem like a relative steal on the secondary market. Of those games, the most expensive get-in price was $15 for last night’s series opener against Toronto.

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From our friends at TiqIQ:

All season the New York Yankees have found a way to stay competitive. With the amount of injuries they have sustained, especially in the starting rotation, it would not have been surprising if they had one of the worst records in the league, but somehow they’ve remained above .500 all season. Currently they are second in the AL East with a 60-54 record, despite losing four of their five original starting pitchers to injuries. That’s especially shocking for a team that was realistically expected to struggle offensively. But there is one area the team hasn’t struggled, and that is with ticket sales for games at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees are always one of the most expensive tickets in the league, and the only team that has been close to them this year is the Boston Red Sox. For the remainder of the season the Yankees have an average ticket price on the secondary market of $131.43, while most teams fail to even come close to the $100 mark. The league average is about $80 but most teams are lower. That number would be a lot lower if it weren’t for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Part of the reason New York Yankees tickets are so expensive is because of Derek Jeter’s impending retirement, but some promotions have also led to the hefty price tags. The next home series for the Yankees is this weekend against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are no slouch, but they are currently third in the AL Central and a game under .500 at 57-58. Still the cheapest game of the series is $113.03. The most expensive game of the series is $176.61, and it also happens to be a game in which Paul O’Neill will have a plaque dedicated in Monument Park on Saturday.

Similarly the most expensive game for a September series against the Toronto Blue Jays has a promotion. The series is a four-game set from the 18-21, with the game on the 21 the only one with a giveaway. The first 10,000 guests 14 and younger will receive a limited edition Yankees bear beanie baby with the number “2” stitched in to celebrate Jeter. Tickets for that game are averaging $145.57, while the first game of the series is just $91.62.

From August 22-24 they play a Chicago White Sox team that isn’t anywhere close to contention. One the 22nd tickets are averaging $100.54, and on the 24th tickets are just $95.31, but on the 23rd the average is $139.48. But there is a big event on that day, with the Yankees retiring Joe Torre’s No. 6. But that pales in comparison to the game on September 7 against the Kansas City Royals. Tickets are currently averaging $543.42, with a special Derek Jeter ceremony scheduled for the day.

Despite everything they’ve had to deal with, the Yankees still have a chance at the postseason berth. But that’s just part of the reason Yankees tickets have been among the most expensive in the league this year. One of the big reasons seems to be all the promotions the team is having, especially those centered around their most popular players.

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From our friends at TiqIQ:

As the level of popularity in Major League Soccer grows, two more teams will be added to the league beginning in 2015. Next season there will be newteams in Orlando and New York City with the Orlando Football Club and New York City Football Club becoming the 20th and 21st teams in the MLS.

NYCFC will be the second team in the New York area along with the New York Red Bulls, a matchup that has all the makings of an epic rivalry. For at least the first season, NYCFC will have their home games in the famous Yankee Stadium, and they have ensured they will have productive (and marketable) players donning their jerseys when play begins. First, they signed Spanish star David Villa, and rumors had been circulating that English stalwart Frank Lampard and fellow Spaniard Xavi would be joining the ranks. Today they made one of those rumors a reality.

The team announced the signing of Frank Lampard in a move from Chelsea FC in London. Lampard comes to NYCFC after playing in England since 1995. Lampard has scored 211 goals for Chelsea and is their all-time leading goal scorer. He is second all time in the Premier league in assists only behind soccer legend Ryan Giggs. Internationally, Lampard has also been capped over 100 times for the England National team and has scored an impressive 29 goals in international competition. He is considered by most to be one of the best midfielders of the 21st century with his supreme passing ability, along with his tremendous consistency.

Lampard will be joining NYCFC on a two-year deal. He is expected to bring with him a great amount of experience and soccer knowledge. In the press conference today Lampard said, “Having seen the vision of this club, I have seen a real long-term plan and I want to be involved and I want to keep on challenging myself.” No one can be sure exactly how long he will play, but the time he does spend in New York will be well worth it.

The Villa and Lampard signings have the city of New York very excited for the 2015 season. NYCFC recently surpassed 3,000 season ticket accounts with about eight months to go before the opening game. The team has rolled out a very simple ticket buying process as fans only need to put down a small deposit on season tickets initially and then get to choose their very own seats during a seat selection process in August. If you consider that the majority of accounts are probably between 2-4 seats, NYCFC probably has an initial season ticket base around 7,000 people. That’s a lot of fans they’ve been able to get on board before their inaugural season.

With another designated player slot to go for the club, chances are their will be at least one more marquee name joining the team, and a lot more fans wanting to see he team play at Yankee Stadium. If you’re interested in being a founding fan of the team, now is the time to do it!

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From our friends at TiqIQ:

The Yankees have one of the worst run differentials in the league at -29 and have barely hovered around a .500 record for most the season despite a huge offseason spending spree. That, however, doesn’t come close to the awful season the Rangers have put together, who are every bit as bad as their division-rival Oakland Athletics have been good. The Rangers are the only team without 40 wins, currently at a 39-59 record, and have the league’s worst run differential at -110. Both teams have a reasonable excuse, with injuries mounting for both sides. Each team has seen their rotation crumble up to this point in the season. The Yankees schedule just got a lot less interesting with presumed AL Rookie of the Year Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list. It’s no wonder Yankees tickets for the series are down 46 percent for a $73.08 average.

7/21 – TEX Miles Mikolas vs. NYY Shane Greene | Avg. Price: $62.02 | Get-in Price: $17

The first game of the series is the cheapest with a $62.02 average, but the get-in price is the most expensive at $17. There’s also a fan giveaway, with Derek Jeter figurines going to those attending the game. Shane Greene makes the start for the Yankees, and if you just said “who,” you’re not alone. Greene is a rookie 25-year-old who was on no one’s radar. Not even ranked in the top 20 for Yankees prospects, Greene has come up and been one of the team’s best starters. While it’s been just two starts, he has given up only two runs in 13.1 innings, and has a superb 11-2 K/BB ratio, while allowing less than a base runner per inning, while inducing ground balls at an elite rate. He’s definitely gotten lucky, but even without luck he would be an above average starter for the Yankees.

7/22 – TEX Nick Martinez vs. NYY Chase Whitley | Avg. Price: $80.39 | Get-in Price: $10

The next night is Cap Night, with fans receiving a free Yankees cap upon entering the ballpark, and prices climb way up. The average price of Yankees vs Rangers tickets for the game is $80.39 and the get-in price is $10. Chase Whitley takes the mound, and he is another example of an unheralded young pitcher, who had a strong start to his major league career with the Yankees. He’s also a cautionary tale for those getting excited about Greene. Despite a great start, Whitely now has a 5.30 ERA.

7/23 – TEX Yu Darvish vs. NYY David Phelps | Avg. Price: $76.84 | Get-in Price: $9

When you have as many injuries to the rotation as the Yankees, you’re going to need to get creative to find starters. David Phelps started the season in the bullpen, but has performed well since his move to the rotation. Phelps has good strikeout numbers, a solid 3.87 ERA, and is third on the team in WAR, meaning he has at least been reliable for the Yankees this season.

7/24 – TEX Colby Lewis vs. NYY Brandon McCarthy | Avg. Price: $83.16 | Get-in Price: $10

The final game of the series is the most expensive with an $83.16 average and a $10 get-in price. Brandon McCarthy makes his third start since his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the change of scenery has done wonders for him. He’s given up just one earned run in both his starts, while pitching at least six innings both times. He’s also walked just one batter compared to 12 strikeouts.

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From our friends at TiqIQ:

New York City is the largest market in the country. In sports that’s meant more than one franchise per major sport. But instead of a double dipping in allegiance and an increased chance of a championship for the region each season, the city divides support…even if it’s never been done evenly. And, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. That’s led to plenty of intercity rivalries in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. Now you can add MLS to the mix.
Major League Soccer is a growing sport in the United States, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Soccer has long been an afterthought to the majority of sports fan in the US, and many of those that have paid attention choose to focus on leagues overseas. But that doesn’t mean MLS has remained stagnant. Since it’s inception in 1996 the league has grown from 10 teams to 19. Up until now the lone New York team was the New York Red Bulls, and like the New York Giants and Jets they’re New York only in title, playing their games in New Jersey instead.
Starting in 2015 New York City Football Club will be added to the league as the 20th team, playing their games in Yankee Stadium for their first season. Jointly owned by the Yankees and Manchester City owners, there are already plans to build a new stadium for the club adjacent to Yankee Stadium. The point is, this team will actually play its home games in the city.
Until the new stadium is built, those home games will be played at Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium has already been host to several international matches in the past few years, including Manchester City against Chelsea and Spain vs Ireland last year. On July 30, Man City will play Liverpool at the stadium as part of exhibition tournament for European clubs in the US. The Man City-Liverpool matchup will be the fifth soccer game held at Yankee Stadium since 2012. While plans for a new soccer stadium are in progress, the friendlies and NYCFC game will have to schedule their games around the Yankees schedule with two to three days needed to change the field over from a baseball diamond to a soccer pitch. After the July 30 match, the Yankees won’t play at home until August 4.

So with the birth of the latest New York City rivalry and another coming to Yankee Stadium, this one will have an interesting wrinkle. While the New York Red Bulls have been part of the league since the start – though as the MetroStars through the 2005 season – they are far from a longstanding tradition like the Giants, Yankees, Knicks and Rangers were before rival franchises entered the league. With the team actually located in the city confines, former Red Bull supporters may jump ship. With the prime venue of Yankee Stadium for home games, it wouldn’t be a surprise if NYCFC tickets become some of the most coveted in the league on the secondary market.

NYCFC, following suit of the Yankees, has already made some big name additions to the roster mainly David Villa, who played for Spain’s national team in the World Cup, and the rumored signings of Frank Lampard, who played for England and recently Chelsea in the English Premier League while there have also been reports a deal with Spanish midfielder Xavi is imminent.

 

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The following is a guest post from long-time reader Sung-Min Kim, who you can follow on Twitter at @SungMinKim116.

(Yahoo)

(Yahoo)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the offseason of 2006~07, I always think “what if?” the Yankees had signed Ted Lilly. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, as you may recall, was a Yankee long time ago until the trade that brought Jeff Weaver to Bronx (“Lilly had cried the day in 2002 when Cashman traded him.”) The lefty went on to have few solid seasons with the Athletics and the Jays – 9.7 cumulative fWAR from 2003-06 – until he hit free agency for the first time after the ‘06 season. Lilly strongly wanted to be a Yankee again but the team let him take the Cubs’ offer. Actually, they had someone else in mind by the time Lilly agreed with the Cubs – on November 29, 2006, the Yankees had won the bidding to talk with the Japanese lefty, Kei Igawa. Lilly signed for a four-year, $40 million contract and the Yankees spent a total of $46 million dollars ($26 million in bidding, and $20 million in 5-year contract) for Igawa.

Safe to say, the Bronx Bombers probably should have gone the other way. During the four-year contract with the Cubs, and later the Dodgers, Lilly compiled 12.8 cumulative fWAR — a top 30 figure among the starters who pitched between 2007-10. Igawa, on the other hand, made only 16 total appearances during the five-year contract while compiling an abysmal -0.2 fWAR. Looking at it any shape or form, the Yankees lost out pretty big on this one. While in the Yankee organization, Igawa became the laughingstock of the fans, toiling in the minors for the most of his contract. But before the ill-advised decision by the Yankees front office, what got Igawa the Yankee attention? Who was he?

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By Mike Shackil, Tiq IQ

The AL East standings are pretty much the reverse of what everyone thought they’d be before the season started. The Tampa Bay Rays are safely in the basement as the Toronto Blue Jays lead the division. Even the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are currently out of a playoff spot, with the Red Sox a far ways away just a season after winning the World Series.

But some things turn out as expected, and the latest installment of the famed Red Sox and Yankees rivalry is looking like a pretty expensive series. Currently the average price of the series is 20 percent over the average ticket price for the remaining home games at Yankee Stadium. That average was already the highest in the league at $144.65, and Yankees tickets for the series are averaging $173.98. For fans who have purchased the Yankees Six-Game Flex Pack, you can add one of these three games to your package.

6/27 BOS Brandon Workman at NYY Vidal Nuno | Avg. Price: $241.09 | Get-in Price: $73

Brandon Workman is making his first start since serving a suspension for throwing at Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria. Workman has been a solid addition the Red Sox pitching staff since making his major league debut in the bullpen last July, and has likely earned a spot in the rotation after filling in due to injuries. In five starts he has a 3.21 ERA and has gotten better and better as he’s been stretched out. But despite his improvement it’s still shocking to see this as the most expensive game of the series by far, especially with Vidal Nuno starting for the Yankees. In 12 starts Nuno ranks at replacement level with a 5.29 ERA and 1-4 record. The average for the game is $241.09 and the get-in price is $73. To put that get-in price in perspective, half the league has an average season price around $73.

6/28 BOS Jon Lester at NYY Masahiro Tanaka | Avg. Price: $178.77 | Get-in Price: $50

The following game is the true marquee matchup of the series, with aces Jon Lester and Masahiro Tanaka taking the mound for the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively. Both have WARs above 3.0 this season and rank near the top of the league in most statistical categories, and Tanaka is the likely runaway winner with AL Rookie of the Year after coming over from Japan. The game is averaging $178.77 a ticket and has a get-in price of $50.

6/29 BOS John Lackey at NYY Chase Whitley | Avg. Price: $102.08 | Get-in Price: $26

The final game of the series is easily the cheapest. With an average of $102.08 it is the only game below the Yankees season average in the series. Even the get-in price of $26 is pretty reasonable. The pitching isn’t bad either. John Lackey gets the start for the Red Sox, and he has been their best pitcher outside of Lester. For the Yankees, rookie Chase Whitley gets his ninth start, and he has been surprisingly solid for the Yankees. He’s got a great K/BB ratio, and despite a 4.07 ERA, he has a FIP that only trails Tanaka on the team.

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The following is a guest post from long-time reader Sung-Min Kim, who you can follow on Twitter at @SungMinKim116.

(Sports Q)

(Sports Q)

As many of us know, the Yankees are set to pour a lot of money into international signings come July 2nd. The reports say they already have come to an agreement with three big-name prospects in Latin America and there is possibly one more coming from Korea. On Tuesday, it was reported that 18-year old SS prospect Hyo-Jun Park will sign with the Yankees and it sounds official — his parents have quipped on it as well. What does this signing mean and what kind of talent is he?

In terms of the Asian market, the Yankees have a richer history with signing Japanese and Taiwanese players, but not much with Koreans. In the 2004-05 offseason, the team was actually strongly linked to LHP Dae-Sung Koo (who, by the way, was a beast in KBO in the 90’s and did a decent job in Japan as well. At the age of 44, he was the saves leader in the Australian league in 2013-14) and reportedly came to an agreement, but the lefty ended up signing with the Mets and this ended up happening. Before the 2010 season, the team signed veteran RHP Chan-Ho Park, who had rejuvenated his career as a reliever, but he proved to be ineffective (5.12 FIP in 35.1 IP) for the Bombers and was DFA’d within few months.

Well, the reports strongly indicate that the Yanks are an official announcement away from sealing Park as their farm commodity. The bonus amount is reported to be around $1 to $1.2 million and the team is ready to supply Park a good amount of accommodation for his adjustment to the new culture, including a full-time translator, a “hotel-quality dormitory,” etc. He would be the first Korean IFA ever to sign with the Yankees.

As a junior of the Yatap High School of Kyung-gi province, the shortstop is tearing the cover off the ball in the Gogyo Yagu Jumal League (high school weekend league), hitting for a .467/.614/.967 slash line in 44 plate appearances in 10 games. Out of his 14 hits, 7 of them are extra-base hits with three homers. Considering that Park’s been considered a cream of the crop tier prospect since his sophomore year, when he hit .371/.475/.557 with 1 HR, his offensive performance so far this year has put him into a formidable prospect status. Another note about his power performance is that he’s done it all with a wood bat in a league that banned the use of aluminum bats back in 2004. Also, he has shown a good eye throughout his high school career. For example, during his freshman year, even when he hit for only .256 avg., he managed a .468 OBP. So far in 2014, he has a 13-to-4 BB-to-K ratio in 10 games.

Garnering attention since his sophomore year, a lot of Korean scouts have pegged Park as the possible No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 KBO Draft. At this point, it’s unlikely any KBO team will choose Park. Back in 2006, the Kia Tigers selected RHP Young-Il Jung, who had already generated strong ML interest, and the righty ended up signing with the LA Angels and the Tigers ended up wasting their 1st-round pick. The team with the first pick on the upcoming KBO Draft, the KT Wiz (an expansion team that will make its debut in KBO next season), has already announced their first two picks they received as an expansion team (RHP Sung-Moo Hong and RHP Kwon Joo). Many speculate that had Park not maintained a strong connection with the Yankees, the shortstop would have been the Wiz’s pick.

According to this article, before this winter Park looked forward to being selected in the KBO draft. “I was approached by the Yankees during the sophomore year of high school,” Park said, “my parents liked the idea of going to ML but I wasn’t sure what to expect so I declined their offer at the time.” Park’s decision changed when he trained in Los Angeles over this past winter. “I played with American players few times then and I felt they had better power and basics,” said Park, “despite all that, I felt that I played very well against them, so I started to feel confident about (playing in America in the future).”

(dearsanta.tistory.com)

(dearsanta.tistory.com)

The Yankees were not the only team that showed an interest in Park. The San Diego Padres reportedly made a $1 million offer and their scout said that “(in his sophomore year) Park was a $500K-worthy player and after I saw him in Los Angeles, he was more of a $1 million-worthy talent.” The Padres are not alone. According to Chi-Hoon Lee, Park’s agent, seven ML teams, including the Yankees, have shown interest in the shortstop, but the link also states the Yankees are Park’s sole priority.

The $1.2 million bonus is not as high as what the Yanks are giving to few other IFA signees but it’s still a lot of money. In fact, it rivals the top-tier annual salary of KBO. The highest-paid player of the league, 1B Tae-Kyun Kim, is set to receive $1.403 million for 2014. For another point of reference, OF Hyung-Woo Choi, a 30-year old proven offensive commodity, gets paid only $421K for 2014 season. A 18-year old prospect Park has a chance to receive 3x the money that an offensive star Choi is – who is hitting for a 1.074 OPS so far this season. It is suffice to say that the amount is too good to easily pass up on.

The biggest Korean IF prospect to have signed with an ML team prior to Park is SS Hak-Ju Lee for the Rays farm system. Park has gotten comparisons to Lee for both his offensive and defensive game. This would have been a more thrilling thought last year, before Lee tore his ACL while hitting for 225 wRC+ for the Durham Bulls in AAA level. He has yet to find his offensive groove so far this season (73 wRC+) but he is still only a 23-year-old in AAA and have some time to work himself into position to be a future SS for the Rays. Lee was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year-old back in 2008 with a $1.15 million bonus. Park may get around that figure (or a little more). In six minor league seasons, Lee has hit for a .285/.360/.380 line overall.

Here’s MLB.com’s scouting report on Park – he ranks #12 in the overall list (also the site misspelled his name as “Hyu-Jun Park”).

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60

Park and his teammates from Yatap High School in South Korea spent more than a month in the United States playing against top high school teams from California earlier this year. There’s a real possibility the young infielder will get a chance to see a lot more of the country in the near future.

A legitimate shortstop prospect, Park has the tools to stay at the position as he develops. What’s more, some scouts think he has the potential to be above average in every facet of the game, except for power. That said, there’s the belief that he could still hit at least 10 home runs when he gains strength. He can also spray the ball to all fields.

Scouts view him as a good defender with solid fundamentals and compare him to Tampa Bay infield prospect Hak-Ju Lee. Park has been scouted heavily by the Yankees.

Based on what I hear about Park, the scouting grades and report sound about right. Personally, I’d like to see Park fill out his frame and have a better power display than projected (because power is sexy), but he’s still projected to show plus hit, run and field tools. If his high school slash lines are any indication, he also has some plate discipline.

Of course, the tools translating in pro ball are all big ifs. He could develop as well as Lee or he could be a costly flop like Kelvin De Leon. The odds for the latter is much bigger than the former — especially considering the cultural adjustment and language issues — it won’t be an entirely smooth ride for Park. Rangers OF Shin-Soo Choo is the main example of a Korean position player who enjoyed success after years of toiling in the minors and going through cultural and language adjustment as a teenager. However, for every Shin-Soo Choo, there are a bunch of failed prospects who never adjusted to the American lifestyle and English language and returned to their home country.

Lee started out at a low-A level instead of any short-season leagues and, according to reports, Park may start at the same level as well. The shortstop himself said he wants to be a ML regular in “three years” but I think it will take longer. The tools and the hype are there. Will he be the next Shin-Soo Choo or the next Carmen Angelini? Too early to speculate what will he be like in 3-4 years, but as a Korean and a Yankees watcher (who wanted to see Choo sign with the Yankees over the offseason), I’m looking forward to seeing his development in the system.

From Mike Shackil, TiqIQ:

It’s an eventful weekend for the New York Yankees this week. After a three-game series with the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays, the Yanks welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Yankee Stadium. More importantly, there will be a couple events to celebrate some of the most storied players in Yankees franchise history. On Saturday the team is honoring Tino Martinez, and Sunday is 68th Annual Old Timers’ Day at the Stadium.

Tickets for the game hold an average price well above the season average. Yankees tickets are averaging $185.37 for a 29 percent increase over the season average of $144.06. The get-in price for the game is $44. The Yankees will unveil a Monument Park plaque for the former star before the game.

The next day is Old Timers Day and the ceremonies will start at 11:30 am. Rich “Goose” Gossage will have his own plaque unveiled before the Old-Timers game. In addition to being a former Yankee great, Gossage is a Hall of Famer after having being inducted as part of the 2008 class. He was with the Yankees for seven seasons and won a World Series with the team back in 1978, his first season with the team.

The Old Timers game will follow the ceremonies, and will also be aired on the YES network, and the final game of the Yankees vs. Orioles series will come after. The game is currently scheduled for a 2:05 pm start.

Tickets for the game are averaging $147.53 for a two percent increase over the season average. The get-in price for the game is $27. Yankees fans will have an added treat for Sunday’s game, as phenom Masahiro Tanaka will be making the start. He’s the current frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, and has been one of the top five pitchers in the entire league.

The Yankees are currently 2.5 games behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays with a 37-33 record. The Orioles are just a half a game behind them at 37-34. The Yankees have actually fared better on the road this season, posting a losing 15-16 record at Yankees Stadium, while the Orioles have a winning road record at 20-17. It should be an exciting weekend for Yankees fans young and old.

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