Lee Jeong-hoo (25, Kiwoom), who will knock on the door of the major leagues through the posting system (closed competitive bidding) after this season, is starting to get some local media attention. Some scouts believe he can hit three triples in the majors.
Jim Borden, a columnist for North American sports publication The Athletic and former general manager of Cincinnati and Washington, ranked the top 30 free agents in Major League Baseball as of today (11 November). Among the many superstars listed below the reigning No. 1, Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), is Lee Jung-hoo. Borden ranked Lee 27th overall.
As one of the best hitters in the KBO for so many years, Lee has naturally attracted the attention of major league scouts for a long time. More than just a one- or two-year interest, some clubs have reportedly been scrutinising Lee since his professional debut. Sources familiar with the situation say that Lee’s current offensive, defensive, and running skills, his potential for future development, and his character and clubhouse leadership on and off the field are all being reported to the US.
With the scouting reports already piling up on Lee, Borden is intrigued that scouts have mixed feelings about Lee’s bat. After all, he hasn’t played a single game in the United States. It’s harder to gauge how his current skills will translate to the major leagues. This is a common problem for players who have played in the KBO or Japan.
“Major league scouts have mixed reactions to Lee’s hit tool,” Borden said, explaining the local consensus: “Some believe he’ll hit right away (upon arrival),온라인바카라 while others believe he’ll have a learning curve of a year or two to adjust to major league pitching.
“Some people believe he’s going to be a .270 type of hitter (with a batting average), some people envision him as a triple hitter,” Borden said, adding that the local sentiment is mixed. A 0.270 hitter is not a bad thing, but it is not easy to say that it is a superstar, and the value of the two is the difference between heaven and earth.
Lee Jung-hoo is highly regarded for his contact ability to hit triples and his ability to produce walks
In fact, there are only 10 hitters in the major leagues this year who can hit triples, while there are 47 hitters hitting .270 or higher. As Lee is not a long-hitting hitter, batting average is likely to be a major factor in the ‘betting value’.
Borden was more generous with his other skills. ‘The best part of his toolkit is his contact rate and ability to draw walks,’ Borden said, noting that Lee has drawn more walks (383) than strikeouts (304) in his KBO career. “He’s a plus centre fielder with plus range and a strong arm. He gets a good jump on the ball and takes good (batted ball tracking) routes,’ he said, adding that he is rated as a better-than-league-average defensive centre fielder.
Borden doesn’t rate him badly on the basepaths either, saying, ‘He’s an above-average runner with a wide range, but he’s not a real threat in stolen base situations. ‘He doesn’t have a lot of power, but he’s a dominant MVP in the KBO. He suffered an ankle injury and will reportedly miss the remainder of the season, but is expected to move to MLB after this year.
The scouts of 30 teams don’t all agree. Some teams see him as a third baseman and an above-average defender and run producer. Others believe he’s not a triple threat and lacks the power to be a “major league breakout” prospect. However, as with the free agent market, the current posting system means that it only takes three or four teams to value Lee’s value, and his price tag will skyrocket.
In fact, some teams have sent their scouts to Korea to watch Lee in person. This means that they are making a final decision on whether to enter the bidding war and how much to spend. There are enough scouting reports to suggest that missing the rest of the year with an ankle injury won’t hurt his value. It’s just a shame that he’ll miss out on the opportunity to showcase his development.
One of the biggest things scouts are looking at is Lee’s age. Lee will be 26 next year. While there are plenty of geniuses who hit the major league free agency market, it’s still rare to see a 26-year-old in free agency, which means that the team that signs him will have access to all of his prime years. This would be a huge plus in market value. If he gets a five-plus year deal, expect the total to be around $100 million, including posting money, for good reason.