Suk-Min Yoon Battered in First AAA Start
South Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon was truly awful in his first start for the Norfolk Tides, the Orioles’ top farm club. He allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits and a walk over 2.1 innings pitched, and he struck out no one. Yoon allowed runs to score in each of the three innings he pitched.
Needless to say, both Yoon and the Orioles have to be extremely disappointed with Yoon’s first effort. The only good thing that can be said about it is that it’s only one outing. Yoon will certainly get many additional opportunities to show that he can get AAA hitters out. However, AAA hitters were all over his offerings in this first appearance.
Whether or not Yoon succeeds in MLB has greater significance than only to the Orioles and Yoon himself. I think MLB is watching Yoon closely as a yardstick to how good KBO pitchers might really be.
Right now, Hyun-jin Ryu (who BTW got hammered by the Giants in his last start after two excellent starts against Arizona and San Diego) is seen as an outlier by MLB, the KBO’s best pitcher and perhaps the only one with the stuff to be a success in MLB. Yoon, on the other hand, was largely recognized as the second best starter in the KBO — he doesn’t have Ryu’s stuff, but he knows how to pitch and can command a number of pitchers.
If Yoon succeeds, MLB teams will be looking for the next KBO pitcher to bring over to the States. If Yoon fails, most teams will chalk Ryu up as one of a kind, and won’t give much thought to signing another KBO pitcher unless someone stands out as head-and-shoulders above the rest. There aren’t any obvious candidates to be the next Ryu, so if Yoon fails, it could be years before we see another major KBO pitcher signing.