Choi Byung-yong, who suffered unknown sorrow in the KBO draft, was selected by the San Diego Padres. Will Kim Ha-seong be able to grow as a ‘successor’?
San Diego nominated Choi Byung-yong in the 611th round of the 20th round of the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft held at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington, USA on the 11th (hereinafter Korean time).
Choi Byung-yong, born in 2002, graduated from Shinil High School as an infielder with a height of 6.3 feet (about 189.5 cm). Choi Byung-yong played 23 games as a junior at Shinil High School, recording 24 hits, 1 home run, 14 RBIs, 14 runs, a batting average of 0.282 OPS and 0.774, but was not selected by 10 clubs in the KBO draft. Choi Byeong-yong, who suffered unknown sadness, chose to go abroad.
Choi Byung-yong went on to New Mexico Military Institute, located in New Mexico, USA, and played 58 college league games this year, posting 15 homers, 80 RBIs, 71 points, 45 walks, and 10 stolen bases with a batting average of 0.448 OPS of 1.429. And he succeeded in boarding the ‘last train’ bound for San Diego in the 20th round of the major league rookie draft.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego scouting vice president Chris Kemp said, “Choi Byung-yong really likes our club and Kim Ha-seong. He has a beautiful swing form and is a huge infielder.” “Choi Byung-yong loves San Diego and wants to be here. “We think he can hit really well, and we’re happy to have Choi Byung-yong.”
The decisive reason why the number of Korean players entering the US started to increase was the success of Park Chan-ho, the ‘Korean Express’. Park Chan-ho, who was studying at Hanyang University, signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers through an international amateur contract and showed great success in the major leagues, and big league clubs began to show great interest in Korean players.
At that time, after graduating from high school, there were not one or two players who challenged the American stage without going through the KBO league. Seo Jae-eung, Choi Hee-seop, Kim Seon-woo, and Song Seung-jun are representative. And after experiencing the KBO league stage, players who challenged the major leagues include Lee Sang-hoon, Koo Dae-seong, and Lim Chang-yong. Of course, not all players who went to the US could smile, but it was Kim “BK” Byung-hyeon who succeeded here.
As Park Chan-ho and Kim Byung-hyun proved that Korean players worked well in the starting and bullpen, this trend led to Ryu Hyun-jin (now Toronto Blue Jays). After wearing the Dodgers uniform, Ryu Hyun-jin is still walking the path of the top player in the major leagues. And this is connected to the current juniors as well.
As a representative example, in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Park Chan-ho and Ryu Hyun-jin worked, Choi Hyun-il is currently playing in the minor league under its umbrella. And the Pittsburgh Pirates, where Choi Ji-man and Bae Ji-hwan were active players먹튀검증, and where Park Hyo-joon and Kang Jung-ho stayed, signed an international amateur contract with Shim Jun-seok, a ‘160km monster’, prior to this season.
It was Choo Shin-soo (now SSG Landers) who opened the fire as an outfielder. Although there is no Korean outfielder right now, Lee Jung-hoo is likely to take over the baton. And it was Kang Jung-ho who started his career as an infielder. After advancing to the major leagues, he made a surprise appearance and changed the perception of Korean infielders. However, Hwang Jae-gyun and Park Byeong-ho returned to the KBO league without any significant results, but now Kim Ha-seong is following Kang Jung-ho.
Ha-seong Kim has established himself as an indispensable presence in San Diego. Ha-seong Kim, who signed a contract with San Diego prior to the 2021 season, struggled in the first season of his debut due to adaptation to the fast ball, etc., but took off as a full-fledged starter last year, and is having a career high pace season this year.
In particular, the part where Kim Ha-seong stands out the most is his defense. Kim Ha-seong was selected as a finalist for the Gold Glove in the National League shortstop category last year while playing as the starting shortstop in San Diego. Kim Ha-seong’s defense index is the highest among second basemen in the National League. If the current trend continues, there is a high possibility that it will lead to the first award.
In San Diego, which had not had a lot of ties with Korean players, except for Park Chan-ho, Ha-seong Kim became successful, and it is very likely that this was the background for Choi Byung-yong, even though he was in the 20th round. Starting with Park Chan-ho, following Kim Byung-hun, Choo Shin-soo, Ryu Hyun-jin, and Kang Jung-ho, Kim Ha-seong is now serving as a ‘guide’ for his juniors.
Can Choi Byeong-yong, who had the regret of not being nominated in the KBO rookie draft, grow into a big leaguer, a Korean infielder who succeeds Kim Ha-sung? It is not uncommon for a player who has been selected in the bottom round to experience the major league stage.
[Choi Byung-yong, who was nominated by the San Diego Padres, Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres, Ryu Hyun-jin and Park Chan-ho of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kim Byung-hyun, Choo Shin-soo of the SSG Landers, Kang Jung-ho, and Kim Ha-seong.