It was announced today that the Pittsburgh Pirates won the exclusive negotiating rights for Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang. They now have 30 days to work out a contract or he will have to wait another year before he can be posted again. Below are some videos of Kang to get yourself acquainted with the new(possibly) player.
Here is one video link of interest to Pirates fans because it also includes a pitcher they signed, Radhames Liz.
Here are highlights from KBO Highlights covering the 2013 season. This one is good because it has defensive highlights as well.
Here is more defense, with a strange beginning to the video.
Slow-motion hitting mechanics…or go to the next video if you just want to see homers.
If you have the time, watch all 40 of his home runs in one video.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
All this talk about how much of a hitter’s league this is should make everyone a lot more enthused about the signing of pitcher Radhames Liz. If this is such a hitting league, Liz sure put up some good numbers in it. It makes his good pitching results even better than they already show.
Notice that his weight is listed at 211, I’m very interested to see how this guy translates to the majors.
On the defense highlights, at about 1:25, he makes a play that is just unreal. Also the first highlight, where he gets the force at 3rd on a ball in the hole – that’s a very difficult play to make. His head is in the game, and he definitely has a hose.
A very pessimistic projection of his KBO numbers would translate to .240/.305/.480. That doesn’t play very well at 3B (looks a lot like Pedro), but on the other hand he looks like he has a quick first step and so his 3B defense might be pretty good. His arm looks horribly overqualified for 2B.
If the balls were juiced, that would make everyone in the field look slow because the ball comes off the bat faster.
As for the leg kick, weren’t they crediting J.D. Martinez’s season to adding a leg kick to his approach? The leg kick isn’t bad per se, but it’s just different and baseball scouts HATE different.
I fully expect him to start in AA or AAA and, if he looks solid there early, maybe Sean Rodriguez gets flipped for prospects.
Somebody said he only has right handed pull power. Watch the 36 minute video of his 40 home runs and watch some of those shots to centerfield. The park is only 387 (118m) to dead center but there is a wall about 80 to 100 feet tall 10 feet behind the fence and he hits a low outside pitch at the top of that wall. I think its between the 12 to 15 minute mark on the video.
A lot of moving parts in his swing and load. Steps in the bucket a little. Swings hard. You have to expect he will need to tone all that down in the MLB. He’s got a nice glove and hands and arm and appears to be pretty athletic…hopefully his range ends up being decent.
Maybe signing Kang is the key to getting his partner in crime Park, the 1b for the Heros to sign as well. We could use a power 1b and the guy is a hell of a fielder too… I love his bat speed.
Kang in 2014 and Park in 2015??
Highlight films are misleading, of course, but one thing that should concern Pirate fans is Kang’s weird leg-kick. I understand Asians tend to use this odd kick, but it seems like so much extra movement that NL pitchers will be able to exploit it.
That’s certainly the first thing that jumps out in his swing, but I think this type of leg kick is different from what we’re used to seeing in the States. Kang starts his sooner, and actually makes adjustments during the movement. Highly unusual, but you can definitely see him hesitate a split second on breaking balls so he doesn’t get too far out in front, and he gets himself into a good baseball position on foot strike.
These are, as you note, highlights. Of course he’s going to look good in them. Should be interesting to see how this translates.
It’s hard not to love watching this kid. Frankly I’d put him at short and let Jordy compete for the job. I really think Jordy’s defense was above average last year, and Barmes really rubbed off on him but this bat should be in the lineup as long as he’s productive. Keep in mind the average was like .345 so he’s not just hitting bombs.
a few gap shots in there, but otherwise Kang looks like a dead-pull hitter. his range a SS looks to be average… he may be better suited to 3b or 1b?
I have watched a lot of tape of Javier Baez and I see a lot of similarities in their swings. I am guessing a lot of no doubt homeruns and a lot strikeouts to go with it.
That was my first thought as well.
I can see the similarities, Dave, but Kang is much, much more balanced and controlled through his swing. Kang is actually quite rotational, getting a ton of torque out of the separation between his hips and shoulders (freeze the slow-mo around 0:17).
He also doesn’t have anywhere close to 80-grade bat speed, as does Baez, so we’ll see.
If Kang makes it to MLB and hits 75% as well as he did in Korea (30 HR, 89 RBI), I’ll happily stop by Golden Pig on my way to PNC and bring him a bucket of bulgogi every game I attend.
Looks like he can give Mercer a run for his money! Could be great addition as #25 . I am really, really pleased that the Pirates addressed their biggest weakness, hi level depth at 3B/SS. Hope they can sign him!
i’m no scout, and i’m not gonna watch all 40 homers, but his swing really reminded me of Josh Harrison.
The thing that most reminded me of Josh Harrison among those videos was the runner that got called same at 2b by planting his leg just short of the tag, then stabbing the bag with his other leg. That was pretty incredible.
that whole video is nuts haha. lots of weird plays.
Does anyone know what his physical size is?
I saw 210 as well, he may have bulked up, leading to the power increase and the drop off in steals.
The pirates must see value (on offense and on defense) beyond his right handed pull power, which would die at PNC park.
The hardest fastball I saw was 90mph (converted from kph) and the deepest part of any of the parks was 390. I would love to see his average flyball distance and also a spraychart showing how many homeruns would have left PNC. Any idea if this data is available? I’ll probably look into it tonight if I’m bored
He was loading up and hitting some balls pretty deep. His signing would make spring training a lot more interesting.
This is the best thing I found, its a little on the pessimistic side but it discusses how the issue may not be that the fences are shorter, but that the balls are livelier. The craziest thing is they average 11 runs a game.
Here is a league link.
To add to this, I’m surprised at how much the reports on his defense vary. I’ve seen that the Pirates should put him at shortstop right off the bat and make Mercer utility, that hes best suited for third, that he doesn’t have the glove for third and second is the best option, and even right field was mentioned.
Whoever said they should start him and make Mercer a bench player should be shown tape from Mercer last year. Mercer will be the OD SS and should be.
he looks at least as good as… say…Jay Hay with the glove. you don’t necessarily feel great about him at SS, but a game here and there will be fine to watch.
He isn’t the most talented in the field, but he really looks to give 110% and to have a lot of #want.
I just feel that you can’t judge defense from a highlight reel, only from watching whole games to gauge range and such things.
Also, something else to watch is that hes played 32 games at catcher. Since the one thing scouts agree on is his plus arm, he could have above average athleticism for catcher with plus offense for the position. Who knows what the plan is, but if Cervelli doesn’t quite work out that is the Pirates biggest weakness.
Agree. That’s a highlight reel. No routine plays that show whether he’s got the dreaded d’Arnaud double clutch or other flaws.
I don’t think that the 390 meant much on all but 2 of the homers in the the first video clip since the other homers were absolute bombs with one leaving the park in left field.
Man you guys are a buzz kill… I mean I’m thrilled even though I expect this ownership group just bid on him to pretend they were going to spend money!!! JK sorta.
I’m not being a buzz kill, I wouldn’t be researching if I wasn’t excited
Ryan Sadowski gives a pretty good in depth look at Kang in a podcast on MLB Traderumors. Here is the link Karp62 posted on Bucs Dugout. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/12/mlb-trade-rumors-podcast-episode-11.html
I hope you’re bored and let us know later!
I couldn’t understand the narrative —sounded Chinese to me? Looks like Miggy.
Haha, someone better explain to him what pimpin a HR is, and what results from it in MLB… hopefully nothing gets lost in translation.
Here’s info from Baseball Reference: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/leader.cgi?type=bat&id=867da834
2014 Korean Baseball Organization Batting Leaders
2nd OBP, 1st SLG, 1st OPS, 2nd HR
It was headed for the DMZ, he had to watch.