Jung-Ho Kang is Confident He Can Outplay Jordy Mercer at Shortstop

Jung-Ho Kang held a press conference with the Korean media, prior to his flight to the U.S. The infielder talked about several topics, including mentioning that he would like to get a chance to compete with Jordy Mercer for the shortstop position. He also re-iterated his desire to square off against Aroldis Chapman, and said that he won’t be changing much in his game. There were also mixed reports on whether he has actually signed, with one tweet indicating he hasn’t signed yet, and another saying he just doesn’t know the details. Obviously he hasn’t “signed”, since he’s still in Korea, but it’s possible that he has agreed to terms. Here are the tweets from the press conference.


Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

i imagine in the long run it’s more about finding a replacement for Walker. I they can’t extend or resign Walker then they will need a 2nd baseman, it may be that Harrison moves to 2nd and Kang to 3rd. Last year the players talked about how they were willing to help the team. Snider took his demotion well and was ready when his number was called. You also didn’t hear a lot of complaining from Pedro when they were going to move him to 1st.


I mean, Pedro really didn’t have a right to complain about getting moved to first when he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn throwing a baseball and Harrison was having an outstanding season all around.


Despite the Pirates having pretty much all positions mostly set this will be a very interesting spring with Kang, Rodriguez, Liz & Holdzcom, a new catcher, and the young starters in camp.


Eric Davis and Daryl Strawberry were the last two quality hitters that I remember having a severe leg kick.
I think Clint Barmes toyed with one last year toward the end of the season.
I think Polanco had one as well coming up through the minors and it was coached out of him.

The biggest problem with a leg kick is maintaining a level swing when coming through the zone. Standing on one leg, you will have a tendency to dip the front shoulder forward as your front leg comes back down to the ground. It’s a mental thing mostly, getting your upper body to move independently of what your lower body is doing.


Xavier Nady had a pretty big kick IIRC and he was a decent hitter for a few years.


Competition is nothing new to Mercer. He had to earn his spot over a 3 year span. I can’t wait to see it.


Results will prove whether he needs to tone down the leg kick or not.


The Pirates better get to Kang quick because this media will have the whole team fighting before it is over and a Chapman fastball between his ears before he gets in the batters box. How he says what he says matters and confidence is what he should have, but we are in the new world the “You can’t say that” world. Quite frankly, I don’t know what you can say. Oh, give me back the old days.

Lukas Sutton

Pretty sure the team is used to dealing with the media and isnt gonna hate a kid from a different country answering questions and trying to answer them honestly. Its also not an issue of “you cant say that” but more importantly knowing how to make confidence sound like you arent being negative about another teammate. The context of this quote show he wasnt meaning anything negative toward Mercer, but the media was fair with its line of questioning.


Who knows how the S Korean media is either? They may blow stuff up and sensationalize things. But he is coming from a league he destroyed so you’d expect he’d have some confidence.


I kind of feel bad for Mercer. Your organization brings in another player who makes 8 times as much as you are making and wants to take your job even though you produce very well the past 2 years. Most people be would be somewhat upset if your company did that to you.


Did you feel bad for Barmas when Mercer took the job from him?

Joe Nastasi

I felt bad for Mercer because it took to long for Hurdle to take his Barmes blinders off


Mercer should feel good knowing his team is not complacent squeaking into the playoffs as a wildcard and quickly getting eliminated. I assume Mercer is highly competitive and looks forward to a challenge, and that he wants to know every game is an audition for the starting job.


Mercer’s already commented that he likes Kang’s confidence and looks forward to the position battle. If Kang hits, they’ll find a place for him to play. If Mercer is also hitting, it probably won’t be shortstop. But there are enough at bats to get all four of our capable outfielders and all five of our capable infielders plenty of at bats.


This is baseball, not a corporate structure, winning is everything and the best players survive. The Pirates are supposed to work at trying to make the team better. Mercer will survive and since he can play anywhere in the infield, he will not be without a job.
Mercer might not be the odd man out anyway?

Brian Bernard

Just watched 42 last night, and some similarities are here. The first real talent to bridge the gap between leagues. A SS in one league who moved to play 1b in MLB – will there be a similarity there also?
Seems like there is some discrediting of the players capabilities also – of course he’ll have the same opportunities to show what he is capable of. Killer Kang! Bring it!


Makes me wonder whether Jordy Mercer could post a .356/.459/.739 season with 40 HR in 117 games in the Korean Baseball Organization. I like Mercer, and have no problem with him as a starting shortstop. But he is not going to make anybody forget about Arky Vaughan or Honus Wagner.
The competition should be good for the Bucs. 2015 should be fun.

Lukas Sutton

Not that its a perfect comparison or shows anything definitive, but Felix Pie had a .326/.373/.524 line with 17 HRs in the KBO last year. Yamaico Navarro saw .308/.417/.552 with 31 HRs. Most shockingly, Eric Thames saw .343/.422/.688 with 37 bombs. Offense does reign in the KBO.

Nathan Swartz

It would be hilarious if he turned out to be awesome, even more so if he was an Aroldis killer…the ONE dude Chapman couldn’t get.
All opinions have been based upon Americans going over to play when, in reality, he has no predecessors.
I just really really like that the FO likes to jump in to untapped markets: India, Australia, and now, South Korea.


In the NL there are four players total that have multiple career hits against Aroldis Chapman without striking out:

Jordan Pacheco (AZ) – 2 for 3, 0 Ks
Cliff Pennington (AZ) – 2 for 2, 0 Ks
Corey Hart (PITT) – 2 for 4, 0 Ks
Jason Werth (WASH) – 2 for 3, 0 Ks

There are also three players in the NL that have 3 or more hits versus Chapman
Startling Marte (PITT) – 3 for 8, 4Ks
Neil Walker (PITT) – 3 for 8, 2Ks
Buster Posey (SF) – 3 for 5, 1K

The Pirates as currently constructed have hit Chapman better than any other team in the NL. Chapman in his career has given up 126 hits. The Pirates have 12 of those hits – Harrison is career 2 of 8, McCutchen is career 2 of 7.

And so, he would be ONE MORE dude on the Pirates roster that hits Chapman pretty well.

Todd Kemmerer

The only two good players from there are he seop choi from marlins/cubs about 10 yes ago,..and choo from the indisns


Choi and Choo are both South Korean, but both grew up playing here in the minor leagues — Choi from 20 and Choo from 19. Kang is blazing his own trail as far as position players go.


I would like to see a competition between Kang and Mercer with the loser become the utility infielder along with Rodriguez. I’m not a huge fan of Mercer’s ability and believe we have seen his ceiling. I think Kang’s ceiling will be higher at the plate. Defensively I have no idea but I don’t consider Mercer any better than average. Either way I think the bench is going to be a major strength this year.

Lukas Sutton

Even if we have seen Mercer’s ceiling, its pretty dang solid for a SS. 2 WAR doesnt really happen that easily at SS, so if Kang is better than that its great for PIT but it wont be easy to do.


Mercer was incredibly above average last year. In fact, he was in the ninth best defender in the NL according to runs saved,

Lukas Sutton

To be fair to what he said, his initial response was to the question of if he thinks he can be the starting SS. He said if given consistent opportunities to play he can. Follow up was if that meant even over Mercer, and Kang nodded. Im guessing Kang had no real idea how the media would react to that as he said it lol. Gotta love the confidence, and gotta get him here and explain some things to him.


Well, he’s definitely confident.

Scott Kliesen

Talk is cheap. Let your play speak for itself.


To be fair, he as asked questions and there weren’t any games being played at the press conference.


I like the confidence.

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Draft Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments