There are 46 days during Spring Training, from the day pitchers and catchers reported, to the final game in Philadelphia. By the looks of things, Clint Hurdle is going to be asked a question about Jung-ho Kang every single one of those days.
A big part of that is due to the expanding media presence from South Korea that are attending Pirates’ camp for one reason — to cover the infielder. But Kang is such an unknown, and such an interesting topic that his transformation to the US is something that everyone is interested in, and not just people from his home country.
As a result of all of these questions, we will most likely hear every single thing the Pirates think about Kang. Some of this will be new information that is a surprise, and some of that will be confirmation of things that were obvious. Today’s bit of news falls into the obvious category.
Most people would have assumed that the Pirates believed Kang could eventually be an everyday player. Hurdle added further confirmation to that belief today.
“We believe we’ve brought a player in that’s going to be an everyday player,” Hurdle said. “When that happens? We don’t know.”
As to when Kang could make that jump, Hurdle mentioned that they have a very good player at shortstop, also highlighting Jordy Mercer’s defense. I wrote on Friday why you shouldn’t expect Kang to steal Mercer’s job, and it was mostly defense-related. Hurdle also mentioned the good options they have at third and second base, referring to Josh Harrison and Neil Walker respectively. Overall, Hurdle said that the Pirates believe they have a good team, and Kang will make them better.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Hurdle said on when Kang could have a chance to start. “Sometimes there’s injuries that happen. We want to prepare him for a starting role. See how the season plays out. See where he can fit, what he can add to, and I think everybody’s vision down the road is for this man to post up and become a regular player in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ lineup, in our organization.”
**On a smaller scale, the Pirates added another interesting guy this off-season in Radhames Liz. The right-handed flame thrower was formerly a top prospect in the Orioles’ system, but never made the successful jump to the majors. He has since pitched in Korea, and spent time in the Dominican Winter League this off-season. His performance there was so good that the Pirates not only signed him, but gave him a guaranteed deal, paying him $1 M. That’s rare, as most players in his situation usually settle for a minor league contract and an invite to Spring Training.
Liz has been a starter in the past, and Hurdle said the team was aware of his ability to start. As to whether he would have a chance to start with the Pirates, Hurdle said that the current plan is to stretch him out.
“Our plans going in are to stretch him out as part of our starting depth group moving forward,” Hurdle said. “We can always back him off.”
There is a disclaimer to this. The Pirates have all of their starting options get to a point where they are throwing three innings or 50 pitches in an outing. At that point, they make a decision on who will continue as a starter, and who will cut back and work as a reliever. Liz will be evaluated as a starter until he reaches that point, and then the Pirates will make a decision on whether they want him as a reliever, or want to continue working him as a starting option. That decision will largely depend on how Liz looks, and whether he can carry over the changes that he displayed in the Dominican, which landed him the guaranteed contract.
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.
I think if Jordy Mercer has taught us anything, it should be *not* to judge Jung Ho Kang defensively until actually season him, you know, play defense.
Go back and look at how every one of these analysts saying Kang doesn’t have the chops for short judged Jordy Mercer coming up. The approximate list of those who thought he’d stick is as follows:
Yep, that’s about it.
Mercer doesn’t have a good arm or exceptional range, is large for the position, and isn’t particularly athletic. He just makes the damn plays. Nothing Kang can’t do, he’ll just have to prove it.
I disagree that Mercer doesn’t have a good arm. He has a very good arm, maybe his best attribute. Consistency with the glove is also underappreciated – I thought perhaps Barmes was the perfect role model for Mercer in that way. Efficiency of motion.
When scouts talk arm, they almost exclusively are talking arm strength. And no, Jordy Mercer most certainly does not have good arm strength. I doubt you’d find a single scout who put more than a 50 an the tool.
We will go to the World Series eventually!
These are about Kang`s Golden Glove videos 2013 & 2014!
Does anyone know a hotel/living arrangement in the Bradenton or Sarasota area, preferably closish to Pirate City or the beach(I know that’s vague-23 and a first-timer)? Made the splurge to head down this year, but on a relatively tight budget. Any information or personal experience would be greatly appreciated. I read all of Tim’s great spring training articles, just trying to find some specifics.
I like the Marriott/Courtyard at the Riverfront. Nice area and fairly close to Pirate City. The Riverfront is a nice walking area along the river.
Days inn is really close,clean and cheap.
I’ve made that trip on a tight budget at least 10 times- Right off 75 the closest exit to Pirate City, there is a cluster of hotels off to the right as you get off the interstate, right next to a walmart- THis is the most affordable place to stay at a hotel you’d be familiar with, i’ve done it many times. they all have clean rooms, fridge, microwave, and its about the only area that isn’t $90+ for a double room. Expect about $65 per room, but they fill up quickly so i’d check them out on hotels.com and book something immediately