2 clubs eye 2 beasts “…Korean player’s NPB career to resume via APBC

November 18, 2023 | by

“Two specific Japanese clubs are interested in two Korean beasts.”

Some South Korean players have reportedly caught the attention of two Japanese professional baseball (NPB) teams.

The second game of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 qualifier between South Korea and Japan took place at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday. The result was a disappointing 1-2 loss for South Korea, which puts them in the difficult position of needing a win against Chinese Taipei on the 18th to advance to the finals.

It was a disappointing result, to be sure, but Korea fought well enough given that Japan was a step ahead in objective power. Starting pitcher Lee Yi-ri (KIA Tigers) pitched well with six innings of six-hit ball, striking out three and walking two, and Kim Hwi-jip (Kiwoom Heroes) gave the team some pride with a solo shot to left in the top of the ninth.

Moreover, the APBC is not only about results, but also about the development of young players. Only players aged 24 or younger (born on or after January 1, 1999) or within their third year with a professional club (born after 2021) are eligible to compete, with three wild cards available for players born on or after January 1, 1994.

Certain NPB clubs have also reportedly shown interest in some of the Korean players. Scouts from two NPB clubs were at the Tokyo Dome today to observe the Korean players. According to MK Sports, they are from a prestigious club in the metropolitan area and a team with local ties to a recent championship. However, due to the conservative nature of Japanese baseball, both scouts were reluctant to give interviews.

It’s not uncommon for scouts to visit ballparks to identify talent and make recommendations to clubs, but these were high-level scouts at their respective clubs. They weren’t just out to watch an international tournament.

“Two specific Japanese clubs came to check out about two of their top players,” said Heejin Park, a team leader at Brion Company Baseball Agents who is well versed in Japanese baseball.

Many players have gone through the NPB before. Current Doosan Bears manager Lee Seung-yeop played for the Chiba Lotte Marines, Yomiuri Giants, and Orix Buffaloes from 2004 to 2011, and KBSN sports commentator Kim Tae-kyun wore a Chiba Lotte uniform from 2010 to 2011.

In addition, Lee Dae-ho (retired) was the center fielder for the Orix and SoftBank Hawks from 2012 to 2015, while Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions) was the patron saint of the Hanshin Tigers during a similar period (2014-2015).

However, Korean players have effectively stopped playing in Nippon Professional Baseball after Lee Dae-eun played for Chiba Lotte in 2015 and 2016.

If not right away, Japanese clubs are eager to bring in Korean players in the next two to three years. Yasu in particular is attracting a lot of attention. The players who were targeted by the scouts today were A, who could go overseas in the near future, and B, who will be eligible to go overseas in two to three years. They all have one thing in common: they can hit, but they also have quick feet and reliable defense.

“Japanese clubs think they have better pitchers,” says Park, “and in Japanese baseball, if you can’t play defense, they won’t sign you. We are keeping a close eye on two beasts with good defense and quick feet.”

The scouts even told Park Hee-jin directly that they wanted to sign the A’s and B’s.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen right now, so A is on our radar. “They sometimes visit Korean baseball stadiums to see for themselves,” Park said.

Japanese clubs are targeting Korean players not only for their skills, but also for the marketing benefits. In the past, Kim Tae-gyun’s former team, Chiba Lotte, created the Kim Tae-gyun Burger.

Park Hee-jin, who wants to actively help Korean players enter the Japanese professional baseball scene, said, “When Japanese teams sign (Korean players), it helps them a lot in terms of marketing. The effect cannot be ignored.”

It’s impossible to say for sure, but what is certain is that high-level scouts from two clubs that don’t waste time on meaningless things traveled to the Tokyo Dome to watch the A’s and B’s.

South Korea, meanwhile, will start right-hander Won Tae-in (Samsung) against Chinese Taipei. The 2019 first-round pick from Samsung has a 41-40 record with two shutouts and a 3.92 ERA in 132 games (726 innings) so far this year.

His numbers this season have been solid. In 26 appearances, Won has been Samsung’s homegrown ace, going 7-7 with a 3.24 ERA despite not receiving much run support. 토토사이트


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