by STEVE HAN
South Korean star pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun will be attempting to make the jump from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to the major leagues, according to to his team, the SK Wyverns.
The Wyverns said that Kim, 26, will hold a press conference on Wednesday to formally declare his intention to sign with a Major League Baseball (MLB) team this offseason via posting. The posting process is a silent auction among MLB teams interested in the posted player. Exclusive rights to a 30-day negotiating period with the player is given to a team that submits the highest bid.
In a similar case in 2012, Kim’s countryman Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers via posting. The Dodgers paid $25 million posting fee to Ryu’s team, the Hanwha Eagles. The posting fee for Kim isn’t expected to be as high as what the Dodgers paid for Ryu two years ago, but it is widely speculated that the Wyverns are likely to accept a any bid that’s higher than $5 million.
“We will submit our official request to post Kim on Nov. 1,” a Wyverns official told reporters. South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun added that the MLB team that wins the auction could be revealed as early as the second week of November. The MLB teams interested in bidding must bid within four days after the player is posted.
The left-hander’s rise to stardom began in 2007 in Game 3 of the Korea Series, KBO’s equivalent of the World Series. At just 19, Kim started the game as the Wyverns were down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series against the Doosan Bears and their starting pitcher Danny Rios, a former New York Yankees right-hander who was the KBO’s most valuable player that year.
Kim, who only threw 77 innings in the regular season, outperformed Rios in the pivotal game with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 shutout innings. Inspired by the teenager’s brilliance on the mound, the Wyverns came from behind and later won the Korea Series.
Kim Kwang-hyun retiring 16 in a row in August
After that memorable championship season, Kim quickly established himself as one of the best pitchers in the history of the KBO. Three seasons between 2008 and 2010, he combined for an impressive 45-13 record and posted an ERA of 2.39, 2.80 and 2.37, respectively.
Although Kim was hampered by various injuries between 2011 and 2013 (his ERA was above 4.00 in each of those three seasons), he recaptured full health this past season and posted a respectable 13-9 record with a 3.42 ERA.
While experts in Korean baseball don’t foresee Kim enjoying as much success as Ryu in the major leagues, many still believe that he would pan out better than Suk-min Yoon, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles prior to this season. Despite being considered as one of South Korea’s best pitchers alongside Ryu and Kim when the three pitched in the KBO, Yoon was a flop for the Orioles this year as he struggled in the minor leagues without making a single appearance in the majors.
Kim boasts a four-pitch arsenal with a fastball that tops out at 96 mph to go along with an average slider, changeup and curveball. However, the biggest question mark for Kim is his command as he gave up 4.20 walks per nine innings this season. His inconsistent command could be problematic in the major leagues where hitters are more disciplined at the plate than the KBO.
Featured image courtesy of Nate