The Dodgers just signed South Korean left hander Hyun-jin Ryu to a six year 36 million dollar deal. Ryu had been pitching for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean league (KBO). I’ve noticed a few people have expressed concern about Ryu because none of us have ever seen him pitch before. I suppose this is reasonable considering he’s an unknown. But remember, the GBM would not be spending 36 million dollars on a guy who isn’t already a proven commodity. Then I realized I had never seen the guy pitch at all either. I had never even seen videos of him. So I decided to take to the internet and take a closer look at the big lefty from Gyeonggi-do South Korea.
The first thing you’ll notice about Ryu is that he’s a big boy. Ryu is 6’2 and 215 pounds. You can’t miss the guy. Another thing you’ll notice when the season starts is that while Ryu is a lefty, he bats right handed. That is something we don’t see very often from a left handed thrower. Just an interesting side thought.Ryu Hyun-jin.-Photo courtesy of Kata.com
Ryu was drafted by the Hanwha Eagles in 2005, and attended Dongsan high school in Incheon, South Korea. He led his team to the 2005 Blue Dragon open national high school chamoionship. In that tournament he pitched 22 scoreless innings, while capturing the best player award. 2006 was his first season with the Eagles as a professional.
That’s how good he is guys. He went straight from high school, to the pros. I’m not sure how often this happens in South Korea, but I’m going to guess not often.(Is this common in Korea?) In his first season with the Eagles in 2006, Ryu finished 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA, 204 whiffs, 52 walks in 201 innings pitched. That season he become the first and only player in KBO history to win the rookie of the year, and MVP in the same season.
Let’s check out the video below. This one is of a game while he was with the Eagles in which he only allowed one run through four hits through nine frames. As you can see, Ryu comes over the top for the most part. He has a nice fluid delivery. Everybody has been talking about his mound presence. Take a look at those nasty pitches.
For the most part, Ryu is a Fastball, slider, Curve, and Changeup pitcher. His fastball can reach the mid-90’s, and he uses his changeup and slider as an out pitch. Just look at how sick those pitches are. His off-speed pitches are a thing of beauty. Another video below is of a game in which he whiffed 13 batters for the Eagles. Take a look at how his changeup and slider move. His slider just drops against lefties, but his changeup, which has been described as a “bugs bunny” changeup, tails back nicely over the plate against right handers. He throws a lot of off-speed pitches, but he can also blow guys away with his heater.
Ryu has pitched for the South Korean team in the 2008 Bejing Olympics. Ryu has also pitched in the World Baseball Classic in 2009. Ryu won the pitching triple crown during his 2006 season with the Eagles. He’s won five strikeout titles, two ERA titles, two gold gloves, and seven all-star selections.
Ryu is no amateur. His numbers are really quite impressive. Just have a look. His career marks show he’s posted a 98-52 record, 2.80 ERA, .234 BAA, 27 complete games, eight shutouts, and a 1.15 WHIP. During his seven year career, he has two 200+ inning seasons, and has at least 180 innings in five of the seven seasons. It shows the guy is pretty durable.
Ryu isn’t just any pitcher from overseas. He’s a professional all-star quality pitcher with over seven years of experience. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the KBO since his debut in 2006. I know we haven’t seen him pitch yet, but past pitchers from South Korea that have come over to the Dodgers have acclimated well. Ryu’s idol Chan Ho Park is a good example. We don’t know how he will adjust to the major leagues. He’s going to have to learn the ballparks, and the hitters, but he shouldn’t have a problem with that. That should give Ryu an advantage because none of the hitters have seen him before. I can remember something similar happening to Hideo Nomo, and Chan Ho Park. The Dodgers have decided to allow him to show up to Glendale Arizona early for extended spring training, to help him get adjusted quicker. Remember, throwing strikes and pitching is a language fluently spoken by all starters. He’s got nasty stuff, and is happy to be playing in the major leagues, and pitching for the Dodgers. Ryu seems to be the real deal. I just wanted to put everyone’s mind at ease. I can’t wait to see him pitch in Blue, and root him on from the box seats (or reserved level seats), and chant his name alongside 50,000 other Dodger fans next season.