The Los Angeles Dodgers made a splash on the international market by coming to terms with top South Korean pitching prospect Hyun-Seok Jang.
The agreement was part of the 2022-2023 international signing period that ends on December 15.
Jang received a $900,000 signing bonus and was formally introduced as a member of the Dodgers during a press conference this week in Seoul, South Korea.
Jang is happy to join such a prestigious organization but initially did not expect to sign with the Dodgers, per Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News Agency:
“It’s an honor to be able to put on the Dodgers uniform,” Jang said at his introductory press conference at Seoul Dragon City hotel complex in the capital city. “I knew they were interested in me but I didn’t think I’d end up signing with this team.”
Jang would have likely been the No. 1 overall pick in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Draft next month, but decided to forgo making himself eligible in favor of signing with an MLB team.
Jang revealed that pitching in the Majors appealed to him more due to a greater emphasis on analytics and better resources:
“I could have played some pro ball in Korea before heading over, but my ultimate goal has always been to play in the majors,” Jang said. “I’ve long been interested in pitch design and other analytics. I decided it’d be better for me to learn about them in the U.S. than in Korea because they have better systems and facilities over there.”
Jang is a 19-year-old who pitched at Masan Yongma High School in Changwon, South Korea, this season. He went 3-0 with a minuscule 0.33 ERA and collected 49 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.
Jang is nearly 6’3 and throws a fastball that touches 97 mph, in addition to a slider, sweeper, curveball and changeup. He was named to the Korean national team for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, and will be the youngest player on the roster when play begins in September.
The Dodgers have had four Korean-born players suit up for them in their history, beginning with Chan Ho Park in 1994. The group also includes Hee-Seop Choi, Jae-Wong Seo and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The Dodgers will further add to their ties with South Korea by beginning the 2024 regular season in Seoul, for a matchup with the San Diego Padres. The Seoul Series is being played from March 20-21, 2023.
Hyun-Seok Jang among Dodgers’ additions during international signing period
Along with Jang, the Dodgers have agreed to terms with 13 amateur free agents since the 2022-2023 international signing period opened on January 15.
Among their most notable additions were Joendry Vargas (shortstop; Dominican Republic) and Arnaldo Lantigua (outfielder; Dominican Republic), both of whom ranked as top-50 international prospects for the current class.
The Dodgers recently acquired bonus pool money in a trade with the Chicago White Sox that helped them sign Jang.
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