‘Dreaming of Korea’s 27th Big Leaguer’ Korean minor leaguers nurture ‘hope in tears’ again this year
The dream of the 27th Korean major leaguer continues. This year, Korean minor leaguers have been fighting through frustration and tears to keep their hopes alive for the future.
Catcher Uhm Hyung-chan, 19, who came to the United States this year to join Kansas City, was assigned to the minor league rookie league. He showed promise in his first year as a professional, but was below average in the offensive department. He appeared in 15 games this season, batting .220 (11-for-50) with one home run, five RBIs, and one stolen base. Both his power and contact were below expectations. His OPS, which combines slugging and on-base percentage, was also below average at .625.
Pitcher Jun-seok Shim (19-Pittsburgh) also had an injury-plagued first year as a professional. His 98-mile-per-hour fastball drew interest from both Korea and the U.S., but he was repeatedly placed on the disabled list (IL) during spring training and the season, limiting him to just four appearances in the Rookie League this season. He went winless with a 3.38 ERA in eight innings pitched.
In his second year as a professional, Won-Bin Cho (20-St. Louis) is steadily gaining experience. After spending the season in Single-A, he is batting .258 with six home runs, 46 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases in 100 games this season as of Thursday. His OPS is 0.733. Cho Won-bin’s long bat has been in the spotlight since his rookie year, but he has yet to capitalize on it.
Choi Byung-yong (21-San Diego) is an odd case. After graduating from Shinil High School and not being drafted by the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), he turned to the United States. After two years of American college baseball, he was dramatically selected by San Diego in the 20th round of the 2023 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last month.
Assigned to the Rookie League, Choi has since appeared in seven games, batting .100 (2-for-20) with two RBIs and one stolen base. In the middle of the month, Choi suffered a right calf injury after colliding with a right fielder while fielding a foul ball at second base.
“My rookie league season is over, but if my injuries heal quickly, I plan to stay in the U.S. and play in the education league instead of returning home,” Choi told StarNews last month at San Diego’s spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona, explaining that it was “the club’s consideration for the fact that I was assigned to the rookie league after being drafted and didn’t play many games.”
Choi Hyun-il, 23, the LA Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, was disappointed and hopeful. After pitching just one game last year due to injury, he started this season at High Single-A, posting a 4-4 record with a 3.42 ERA in 15 games, but was denied a promotion to Double-A. However, his rebound from a long injury and rehabilitation tunnel has been highly praised, and he’s looking forward to next season.메이저놀이터
Hyo-Jun Park (27-Atlanta) has yet to fulfill his dream of returning to the big leagues. He’s batting .271 (75-for-277) with five home runs, 39 RBIs, 12 doubles and a .782 OPS in 87 games this season at Triple-A, the highest level of the minors. However, he did not receive a call-up during the major league roster expansion on July 2. He played a total of 68 games with the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh in the majors in 2021 and 2022, batting .201 (36-for-179) with five home runs and 20 RBIs.