‘Up to 165km’ Otani’s best friend also ‘1.8 billion in a year’…’Sisal Sang Career Low’ Ko Woo-seok’s ML challenge, but is it a wise choice?

November 19, 2023 | by

Woo-seok Ko (LG Twins) received a “background check request” from Major League Baseball. LG’s big league challenge could mean a big contract.

The KBO announced on March 15 that it had received a request from the Major League Baseball office to verify the identities of LG’s Ko Woo-seok and Kiwoom’s Lee Jung-hoo, and informed them that the players are members of the LG Twins and Kiwoom Heroes, respectively.”

Lee Jung-hoo, who won the regular season “MVP” title last year with five batting titles, has announced that he will enter the major leagues through the posting system after the 2023 season ends. So it was only natural that Lee would be asked for an identity check. What was surprising was that Go Woo-seok also received a background check from the Major League Baseball office.

Like Lee, Go Woo-seok was the first pick of the LG Twins in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft. Through his participation in the 2017 Premier 12 and various international tournaments, including the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), and Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), he was able to fulfill the required number of registration days and explore overseas opportunities through postings.

LG was “surprised” by the Major League Baseball office’s request for a background check on Go Woo-seok. This is because Go Woo-seok has not revealed his thoughts on reaching the big leagues even once this year. Speaking to ‘My Daily’ shortly after the news broke, Cha Myung-seok said, “I was really surprised, and I’m embarrassed because I didn’t expect it. I’m going to meet with Go Woo-seok’s side on the afternoon of the 16th to hear his side of the story.”

Of course, background checks do not directly lead to major league contracts. Major League Trade Rumors (MLBTR) reported on Go Woo-seok’s request for a background check, but pointed out that “background checks are a formal process that major league teams go through when they are interested in a player for possible posting.” “To be clear, a background check is not a definitive declaration that a player will make the leap to the majors,” they wrote.

However, Go Woo-seok’s desire to play in the major leagues is something he hasn’t expressed publicly. Cha Myung-seok and Go Woo-seok met on the 16th, and Go Woo-seok expressed his intention to challenge the big leagues through the posting system. “Go Woo-seok expressed his desire to challenge the major leagues through posting,” said Cha Myung-seok, “There is nothing I can decide at the moment. We will report to the higher-ups and talk about it in a few days.”

With a fastball that tops 150 kilometers per hour, Ko is arguably the KBO’s best “closer,” having appeared in 354 games and pitched 368 1/3 innings over seven seasons, compiling a 19-26 record, six shutouts, 139 saves, and a 3.18 ERA. However, his performance this season has been disappointing with a 3-8 record, 15 saves, and a 3.68 ERA. It was his second-worst season since taking over as LG’s closer, with the most “losses” and fewest saves. 캡틴토토

It’s true that he had some ups and downs, including a late start to the season due to an injury prior to the World Baseball Classic (WBC). However, his most recent outing wasn’t all that great either. In his first start of the Korean Series (KS), Ko took the loss after giving up one run in one inning. He picked up a save in his second outing, but showed signs of trouble in his third, allowing three runs (three earned) in 1⅓ innings. He shut the door firmly in Game 5, but his ERA in the four games of the Korean Series was 8.31.

Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt, but at this point, the question of whether Go Woo-seok can get a good contract has a lot of negative connotations. Compared to the most recent Asian player to make it to the major leagues, Shintaro Fujinami’s one-year, $3 million contract is likely to be lower. Both Gowseok and Fujinami share the disadvantage of unreliable pitches, as Fujinami outperforms Gowseok in all other areas.

While Koo throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, Fujinami’s fastball sits in the upper 90s. In terms of velocity alone, Fujinami has the edge over Koo. Furthermore, Fujinami’s role has been changed to a bullpen role due to a number of insecurities, but he was previously a “starter,” which means he has the advantage of being able to go long innings in the bullpen as well. Furthermore, Fujinami has a clear primary weapon in the form of a splitter, while Koo has struggled with his slider on several occasions this year.

Given his near-career-low season, it seems a bit premature to expect him to challenge for the major leagues now. Even if he does make it to the big leagues, it’s likely to be a short-term deal. It’s a big risk for him to prove himself in the big leagues while also having to adjust to the major league ballpark and culture. It might be wiser for him to show a resurgence in 2024 and then try to make it to the big leagues with a multi-year contract. We’ll see what LG decides.


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