Korean Hurler Yang To Be Posted


Korean Pitcher Yang To Be Posted

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Some worthwhile news outside of Farhad Zahadi set to become the Dodgers GM, making him the first Muslim general manager in American Sports which I find to be so cool. There is a Korean pitcher, who will be posted. His name is Hyeon-Jong Yang and he will definitely be a hot commodity this winter. Yang is a 26 (27 on opening day next season) year old left handed starting pitcher who is widely considered to be the best starting pitcher in Korea ever since Hyun-Jin Ryu left.

According to his baseball reference’s page, he just finished up a season where he tossed 165.1 innings of 4.25 ERA ball with  8.6 K/9, 0.6 HR/9, 8.6 H/9, and a 4.0 BB/9 as his rate statistics. Those numbers look fairly pedestrian up until you realize that he won what is the Korean equivalent of the Cy Young. Korea’s average ERA is something like a full run higher that what Yang posted this season..

A report by Mark Feisand says that Yang will be posted this winter and if the scout that he talked to is right, it appears that Yang might be the 3rd most sought after free agent pitcher after Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.

"Yang projects as a No. 3 starter in the big-leagues, though according to a scout that has seen him throw, he could develop into a No. 2. With a fastball that sits between 92-95 mph, Yang throws four pitches – fastball, curveball, slider and changeup – using his slider as his out pitch."

Yeah, middle of the rotation starters without draft pick compensations attached to them are very sought after pieces these days. Last offseason shows this point well with Matt Garza finding a 4 year 50 million dollar contract on the open market without draft pick compensation attached to him, while Ervin Santana settled for what was essentially a draft pick in a 1 year 13.3 million dollar deal.

Sone relevant information regarding the posting system in Korea can be found in that article:

"The team submitting the highest posting bid to the Tigers will win the rights to negotiate exclusively with Yang, then have a 30-day window to work out a contract with the lefty."

So it isn’t like Masahiro Tanaka‘s situation last season where it was essentially free agency with a 25 million dollar tax, the Korean and Japanese systems are different, with the Korean being how it was prior to Tanaka’s arrival, and similar to Hyun-Jin Ryu

This of course, is not adding in the type of value comes from adding Korea’s best pitcher to an American audience. That seemed to work pretty well with the Dodgers and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

But only asking one scout’s opinion on a certain pitcher is doing a disservice to one’s evaluation of a specific player. Luckily there is a lot of video of him on the youtube:

Here’s the

useful stream

of him pitching throughout the season, with one video I focused on

This is him towards the later part of the season.

From this video, you can see his fastball readings sit anywhere from 145 KM/H-149 KM/H, hitting each anything inbetween, those readings convert to about 90-92 miles per hour which isn’t as flattering as the scout’s opinion up above.

There’s also some solid video here:

There’s more content because it’s a longer video, but he’s sitting 145 KM/H-149 KM/H. From 1:55- 2:47 he gets hit really hard, meatballs hanging breaking balls and changeups will do that to you. I’m not sure if that’s because it was one bad start, or if he’s a pretty fringy prospect. Just perusing the internet for scouting reports on Yang will give you a pretty fringy report here:

"He looks pretty small on the mound, but is listed at 6 feet tall. He offers no projection thanks to age, and the fact that he has filled out already. From what I saw, Yang has four distinct pitches with three of them having frequent usage."

The 3 pitches look to be his slider, changeup, and fastball being the usable offerings. His curveball is very fringy, even to the untrained eye (me) and probably not a major league offering.

This writeup on Yang is from last year, but a lot of themes from last year carry over to the video in 2014, for example:

"Yang’s fastball was 87-92 MPH. 88-89 was where he usually sat at. He could sink it, and also got it glove side quite a bit (it was probably a glove side pitch on average), even against righties"

The velocity probably wasn’t as low as it was, and the velocity dip to 87 more than likely had to do with an serious injury he suffered last season:

"Yang’s most recent outing was coming off injury (from what I understand, a pretty serious rib injury on his left side, costing him nearly a month and a half) and that is what i watched"

But it seems safe to proclaim that 92-95 is a bit optimistic for his velocity level, his curveball is a fringy pitch, and a lot of his success is going to depend on his breaking pitches according to I R Fast’s writeup on him.

"Evidently, Yang threw up to 93 MPH in high school. Certainly he would be more interesting if he threw that hard, but he can have success with his fastball velocity in the KBO. How much he actually improves depends on whether or not he controls his breaking pitches."

But I am intrigued nonetheless, as is Dan from myKBO.com

It sure sounds like he’s going to be a pitcher who is going to be looked at from a lot of teams. The Cubs, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rangers, and hopefully the Dodgers. I hate simply deferring to a team’s scouting department because “they have had a lot of success recently” but the guys who scouted Hyun-Jin Ryu did pretty well for themselves.

Just so you can visualize Yang’s pitch selection, I created some gifs! Yay gifs!

91 MPH Fastball:

89 MPH Fastball:

81 MPH Changeup:

Another one!:

81 MPH Slider:

79 MPH Curveball:

One thing that does concern me is his delivery, CJ Wilson employs a similar one.

While Yang doesn’t lift his throwing elbow mid delivery quite like Wilson does, they finish in a similar position. You remember that Wilson has undergone Tommy John surgery, and procedures to remove bone spurs. Wilson also started as a reliever and ended up being a starter who was effective for a couple of seasons, and looked absolutely finished this year.

Don’t know exactly how similar they are, or if Yang is destined for tommy john (I’d guess so) but it’s interesting regardless.

Despite this, Yang was really good in Korea (relatively), and will be posted this season. Judging from Dan’s tweet, the fact that he believes Yang could improve with exposure to American coaching is very promising. I am hoping the Dodgers submit a bid for him, if only for the chance to see Uribe, Yang, Ryu, and Puig in one dugout is probably way too good to pass up.

I have a feeling the Dodgers scouting department knows exactly what they’re going to do in this situation, and it’s tough to argue with their track record, even if Logan White’s gone.