Korean Ace Yoon Suk Min
I just saw a post on mlbtraderumors.coms stating that former major leaguer Dustin Nippert had signed a two year deal with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization, Korea’s top league. I remember Nippert quite well as a major league pitcher, so it stirred my curiosity regarding just where his career has gone and what he’d been up to in Korea.
Thanks to mykbo.net, I was able to see what Nippert accomplished in Korea this past season. He was awfully good, posting a 2.55 ERA, good for second in the KBO, won 15 games (tied for 3rd) and struck out 150 (tied of 2nd). Not particularly surprising for a 30-year old pitcher who had pitched creditably in the major leagues for all or part of six seasons.
However, what really caught my eye was the fact that Yoon Suk Min won the pitcher’s triple crown in the KBO in 2011 — 2.45 ERA (he and Nippert were the only starters with ERAs under 3.13), 17 wins and 178 Ks. According to wikipedia, Yoon also led the KBO in 2008 with a 2.33 ERA, and he was dominating in both the 2008 Olympics, when Korea won the Gold Medal, and also in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, going a combined 4-0 with a combined ERA under 2.00.
Yoon appears to have had some arm problems in 2010, and he wasn’t really much of a strikeout pitcher until 2011. However, if he puts up another big year in Korea in 2012, major league teams should give him some serious consideration. He doesn’t turn 26 until July 24th, so you’d have to think that he’s at least on the radar for a few teams in MLB already.