Byung-Ho Park Has Four Home Run Game
South Korea’s Byung-ho Park became only the second player in KBO history, and the first since 2000, to hit four home runs in one game. One thing is for sure, Park’s got major league power — as you can see here, none of the four homers was a cheapy.
Park has 46 home runs this year, and he is on the verge of leading the KBO in home runs for the third straight year. Last off-season, I ranked Park as the top position player prospect, in terms of moving on to MLB or Japan’s NPB, in the KBO for obvious reasons.
In spite of another big season, however, I am now inclined to rank his teammate, SS Jung-ho Kang, higher simply by virtue of the fact that as a middle infielder as opposed to a 1Bman, Kang has to have a lot more defensive value than Park. Also, despite all of Park’s home runs, Kang actually has a higher OPS this year (1.219 to 1.131 — it’s a crazy offensive season in South Korea this year).
I’d still rank Park as the better hitter, given his performance over the last three seasons. However, as a 1Bman, he’s a lot more likely to end up in NPB, where teams can be relatively assured that he’ll be worth a multiple seven figure contract. Major league teams are going to be much less willing to take a risk on a player who would be making a huge jump in competition were he to go directly from the KBO to MLB.
I know nothing about Jung-ho Kang’s defense, although based on my understanding of the level of defensive play in the KBO, I would very much doubt that he plays an MLB level of defense at shortstop. If he could move to third or second and play at or close to MLB-average defense, then he’d be worth a shot from an MLB team at three years and about $5.5 million, the money the the Orioles gave pitcher Suk-Min Yoon last off-season.
Kang has expressed a desire to play in MLB, and it’s doubtful his current team, the Nexen Heroes, could match the offer described above. However, he isn’t a true free agent yet, so an MLB team would have to shell out some money to buy his rights from the Heroes.
One thing is fairly certain, however. If they don’t get hurt, both Park and Kang will play professionally outside of South Korea one day.Baltimore Orioles, Baseball Abroad