SF Lee Jung-hoo already has high expectations in the U.S. “The only question mark is…”

In the U.S., the future of 25-year-old Lee Jung-hoo, who signed with the San Francisco Giants, is looking promising. The Giants are expecting Lee to play a key role in their offense.월카지노

MLB Network published a projected starting lineup for the Giants for the 2024 season on Wednesday (June 13), and Lee was listed in the leadoff spot. His defensive position is center field, which means he’s expected to play a key role on the team as soon as he reaches the major leagues. While the San Francisco Giants have yet to make an official announcement, local media in the United States have assured that Lee will be a key player on the team from next season.

Earlier, John Heyman of the New York Post and MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, reported that “Lee Jung-hoo has signed a six-year, $113 million (KRW 14.84 billion) contract with the San Francisco Giants.” He continued, “Four years later, in 2027, the Giants will begin the season. The deal is believed to include an opt-out clause after the 2027 season, which is four years away.” If the report is true, Lee will make history as the largest contract ever signed by a Korean poster and the second-largest contract total.

It’s fair to say that Lee’s move to the major leagues has been virtually seamless. On December 5, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) announced that it was notified by the Major League Baseball (MLB) office that it had notified 30 MLB teams of its intention to post Lee on December 4. According to the Korea-U.S. Player Contract Agreement, major league clubs interested in Lee could sign him between 8 a.m. on Dec. 5 and 5 p.m. on Jan. 3. And just about a week after the announcement, Lee’s destination was determined to be San Francisco.

The Giants were one of the favorites to land Lee in the major leagues. The Giants had been following Lee for a long time and showed the highest level of interest in him, with general manager Pete Putilla personally visiting Gocheok SkyDome, home of the Kiwoom Heroes, in October at the end of the 2023 season to watch Lee play.

It’s clear why the Giants paid so much for Lee. They absolutely needed an outfielder. It’s safe to say that the Giants don’t have a starting outfielder that they can say is a sure thing right now. Luis Matos, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, played the most games in center field last season (76), but he only managed to hit .250 (253-for-57) with two home runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 14 RBI, 24 runs scored, three doubles, 20 walks, 33 strikeouts, a .342 on-base percentage, a .319 slugging percentage, and a .661 OPS. Add to that the likes of Bryce Johnson and Austin Slater, who played center field but didn’t make much of an impact.

San Francisco finished the 2023 season in fourth place in the National League West with a 79-83 record and a .488 winning percentage. After the 2023 season, the team hired a new manager, Bob Melvin, who spent two years as manager of the San Diego Padres. “We’re looking for an outfielder who’s athletic,” Melvin said in an interview with local media in the United States, referring to the team’s weak outfield position.

Leadoff and center field are not unfamiliar positions for Lee, who is headed to San Francisco. Lee joined the Nexen Heroes (now the Kiwoom Heroes) with the first overall pick in the 2017 rookie draft and excelled in his first year, winning the once-in-a-lifetime Rookie of the Year award. In his seven seasons in the KBO, he played in 884 games, batting .340 (3476-for-1181) with 65 home runs, 515 RBI, 581 runs scored, 244 doubles, 43 triples, 69 stolen bases, a 0.407 on-base percentage, a 0.491 slugging percentage, and an OPS of 0.898. He won the Golden Glove for five consecutive seasons from 2018 to 2022, making him one of the best players in the KBO.

In his injury-free 2022 season, he batted .349 with 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.996, and won five batting titles, including batting average, hits, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and RBIs. He culminated with the MVP award. Lee ranks first in the KBO in career batting average among active players with more than 3,000 career at-bats. This season, however, he was limited to 86 games after suffering a torn ligament in his left ankle in July, batting .318 with six home runs, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.861. But thanks to the generosity of his team’s manager, Hong Won-ki Kiwoom, Lee was able to get an at-bat in his final home game and bid farewell to the fans.

In his seven seasons in the KBO, Lee has played 1,468 at-bats in the No. 1 spot. That’s second only to his 2017 at-bats when he batted third. His numbers weren’t bad either. He hit .328 with 11 home runs, 139 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.832 in the leadoff spot. In 2023, he batted .286 with eight home runs and a .740 OPS in 95 at-bats in the leadoff spot.
Already in the U.S., some are pointing to Lee’s experience in the KBO and predicting success. According to MLB.com, “Lee has the ability to make contact with pitches that he can’t hit out of the zone. He doesn’t have many weaknesses at the plate. He has been described as a ‘bad ball hitter’. It’s an ability he inherited from his father, legendary Korean shortstop Lee Jong-beom.”

According to MLB.com, “Lee’s best season came in 2022, when he hit a career-high 23 home runs and 10 triples. “Power was the one thing missing from the 6-foot outfielder’s tool kit, so while his production dropped this summer, he has at least shown scouts the ability to muscle the ball out of the ballpark,” said MLB.com.

MLB.com continued, “Lee, who turns 25 next year, is looking for a new challenge in the major leagues after giving it his all in Korea. Since making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2017, Lee has posted a career .340 batting average, .407 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage. He hasn’t hit below .318 since 2023, when he was unable to complete the season due to injury.”

“An ‘above-average defensive center fielder’ according to U.S. reporter Mark Pinesand, which should be good enough for him even if the stage changes to the major leagues,” MLB.com continued, “Some had hoped Lee would play another season in South Korea after suffering an injury in July, but that didn’t happen.” “Perhaps it was his performance at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. Although South Korea finished a disappointing third in the Tokyo round-robin, Lee certainly performed well. He batted .429 with a .500 on-base percentage, .571 slugging percentage, two doubles, five RBIs and one stolen base against the world’s best teams.”

MLB.com also highlighted Lee’s father, Jong-beom Lee. “As is often the case with the best players in Major League Baseball, Lee’s father is legendary Korean shortstop Lee Jong-beom. Lee played 16 seasons in South Korea and four in Japan, where he was nicknamed “Son of the Wind. With a career batting average of .297 and 194 home runs, Lee batted nearly four times as well in the 1994 season.” “Lee Jung-hoo, the grandson of the wind, currently has 69 career stolen bases. While the younger Lee, who is known as “Grandson of the Wind,” may not have Jong Beom’s speed, swiping 69 bags in his career thus far, he definitely has the same bat-to-ball skills as his father.”

MLB.com also pointed out Lee’s past interview comments. “My old teammate, Kim Ha-seong, is doing a fantastic job in the major leagues,” Lee said in an interview at the WBC. I think he proved that Koreans can make it in the major leagues. I want to emulate him as a friend and teammate, and if I make it to the major leagues, I want to instill that perception in the fans, and I want to lead the league in batting average and make history.”

Kim Ha-seong (left) and Lee Jeong-hoo in their youth in 2019.

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