Lee Jung-hoo, the grandson of the wind, joined the San Francisco Giants, marking a new milestone in the history of Korean baseball players entering the U.S. Lee Jung-hoo has stood as the best hitter in the KBO League over the past seven years. He has shared all the records and honors imaginable as a professional baseball player, with five gold medals in batting, the Golden Glove, the MVP, the All-Star, and the national team.헤라카지노
Lee Jung-hoo, one of the best stars in Korean baseball, is also treated at the highest level in Major League Baseball. The terms of the six-year contract between Lee Jung-hoo and the San Francisco Giants are $113 million. The total amount including the transfer fee that the original Kiwoom Heroes will receive amounts to $132 million free of charge. The amount is much more than double the “$50 million” that experts expected at the time of the posting application. He signed the contract on far better terms than previous Korean Major Leaguers and Japanese professional baseball batters.
The San Francisco Giants plan to entrust Lee Jung-hoo with the main center fielder and leadoff role for next season. The Giants give high marks to Lee Jung-hoo’s natural contact ability and excellent athletic ability. On top of that, it seems that they have high expectations for Lee Jung-hoo’s star quality. Lee Jung-hoo drew laughter from U.S. reporters with English greetings and witty jokes at a press conference held at Oracle Park in San Francisco on December 15 (local time). An official from Lee Jung-hoo, who was present at the press conference at the time, said, “The atmosphere on the site of the press conference was really good.”
Is the success equation that goes through the KBO correct?
After the news of Lee Jung-hoo’s large-scale contract was reported, a KBO league team official asked, “If Lee Jung-hoo had gone to the U.S. immediately after graduating from Hwimoon High School, would he have been treated as well as he is now?” The official said, “How many high school prospects have been successful in entering the U.S. like Ryu Hyun-jin, Kim Ha-sung and Lee Jung-hoo. Rather, players who went to the U.S. after going through the KBO League have been very successful,” he said. “If you have any baseball prospects and parents who are thinking of entering the U.S., it’s a matter to think about.”
A scout for Asia for a major league team also expressed similar concerns. “When I was in high school, I don’t think it would be easy to answer the question if I asked if Lee Jung-hoo was a good prospect enough to take me directly from the U.S. baseball league,” the scout said. “I remember back then, I wasn’t that good enough to go to the U.S. in terms of physique, strength and speed. However, he adapted to the first division from his first year in the KBO League, and grew at a rapid pace every year. If he had gone directly to the U.S., he would not have become the same player as he is now.”
In fact, most of the players who recently won successful contracts in the U.S. are players who advanced through the posting system. Starting with Ryu Hyun-jin, who signed a six-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 36 million U.S. dollars in 2012, Kang Jung-ho (Pittsburgh Pirates, up to 14 million dollars for four years), Park Byung-ho (Minnesota Twins, 18 million dollars for four plus one year), and Kim Ha-sung (San Diego Padres, 39 million dollars for four plus one year).
On the other hand, there have been few successful cases among players who go straight to the U.S. after graduating from high school. Bae Ji-hwan, who played an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2023 season, is the only player who has risen to the starting lineup among players who go straight to the U.S. over the past five years. Park Hyo-joon, who joined the New York Yankees for a down payment of 1.16 million U.S. dollars in 2014, was a rising star compared to Kim Ha-sung during his time at Yatap High School, but he could only stay in the Major League for two seasons. Players who once stood out in high school including Lee Dae-eun and Lee Hak-joo also returned to the KBO after failing to join the big league. This is why opponents against high school prospects going straight to the U.S. are raising their voices.
Improving the treatment of minor leaguers also contributed directly
On the other hand, some suggest that the government approach a case-by-case approach rather than blindly opposing high school students going straight to the U.S. “Posting and going straight to the U.S. have their own strengths and weaknesses. I think it differs depending on the player and whether he is a pitcher or a batter. A player’s tendency to adapt himself to the new environment is also important, he said. “I don’t think we have enough data to say which one is right yet.”
Another agency official said, “Jumping into the U.S. through posting is an opportunity given to a very small number of players who have already reached the top of the KBO league. We cannot simply compare the success rates of players who have already reached the top with the success of unknown prospects.” “Of the players who joined the KBO league through the rookie draft, less than 10 percent remain active after five years. Going into the KBO league does not necessarily guarantee survival and success,” the official said. “On the contrary, there were many players who went straight to the U.S. in the past. Posting is not an issue that should be simplified because it is the right answer.”
After Park’s success, there was a time when U.S. teams indiscriminately scouted prospective Korean amateur players. There were many side effects from the way they sent prospective players to the U.S. without questioning them. One MLB scout said, “Back then, there was no cap on Major League teams’ international amateur down payment. There were quite a few cases where players paid a large down payment of over 1 million dollars. Players and their parents were also attracted to the huge amount of money right away and chose to go to the U.S..”
Back then, however, the Minor League’s player development system was not so systematic or sophisticated. Promising players who entered the U.S. alone faced language and cultural barriers. Korean players, who grew up in a baseball culture with a lot of intervention by their leaders, had difficulty adjusting to the grazing system of U.S. baseball. Eventually, except for a few who were successful, most had to give up their dream of becoming big leaguers and return to Korea shabby.
However, the situation has changed recently when Major League Baseball’s player development system has developed.