Samsung Lions Sign Rick Van Den Hurk
The Samsung Lions of South Korea’s KBO just signed Rick van den Hurk, a 27 year old (turns 28 in May) Dutch right-hander who most recently pitched in the majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Once again the KBO appears to have signed a player who would have been signed by an NPB team in years past.
Van den Hurk has not been an effective major league pitcher. While he has major league stuff, he does not have major league command. His career major league ERA is 6.08 and his career pitching line is 183.2 IP, 204 hits, 33 HRs and 96 walks allowed and 179 Ks.
I have never seen van den Hurk pitch, but based on his numbers I surmise that he is a pitcher with good stuff but without major league command. He falls behind in the count, comes in over the middle of the plate and gets creamed. However, his high strike out rate suggests he’s got something going for him.
As I’ve been saying all off-season, I’m surprised a Japanese NPB team didn’t sign him first. He’s relatively young, has considerable MLB experience and apparently has good stuff. In Japan, where the talent is a little lower and the strike zone a little bigger, he could be a star like Marc Kroon, another 4-A pitcher with major league stuff but insufficient command, who became the top closer in Japan for a number of years with the Yomiuri Giants.
I will be very surprised if van den Hurk is not successful in KBO. The only thing likely to slow him down would be his inability to adjust to living in South Korea.