Baseball America posted their list of the top 20 rookies for the 2015 season and Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang is listed as the #20 rookie. He was too old to make their prospect list(as were two other Cuban players on the list), but this particular list focuses on rookies and their performance this season. The low ranking is based partially on the fact there is no one else to compare him to right now. No other position player has made the jump from the KBO to the Major Leagues, so no one is quite sure how the stats will translate.
Their best case outlook for Kang is a platoon role with Jordy Mercer at shortstop, while seeing time at both third base and second base when Josh Harrison and Neil Walker need a day off. Their worst case would be that he can’t handle shortstop full-time and he is a back-up at all three positions. So far during Spring Training, Kang has started at shortstop and third base, but has yet to play second base.
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.
I don’t think Kang’s fielding is an issue at all, in fact I think he is as good as anyone else they have in the infield. The problem that I see is that Kang is a timing hitter, meaning the leg kick, if he does not play it would appear to me that he will lose that timing, if he plays I am confident he will show power and hit for a decent average, albeit strikeout a lot. I also realize that Hurdle must consider the club house and ego’s when using a player like Kang, Kang is used to playing full time and has not shown any reason why he can’t here, on the other hand benching a starter can cause a lot of problems.
I don’t think the leg kick is really much of an issue. He’s shown he can get the foot down early when he wants/needs to, and that will allow him to adjust to different pitch speeds. He’ll strike out a lot, sure, but he’s also got a good eye, and so far the hit tool looks pretty real to me.
You look like a smart GM.
Those guys are pros, man… You don’t like that someone is taking your ABs… be more productive with the ones you have. Playing time will always be a function of production… You saw that last year with Snider and Polanco.
And Hurdle isn’t paid to baby anyone or stroke egos. He’s paid to maximize wins.
And from an organizational viewpoint… Kang is gonna play, and be given every chance to become a starter…. You don’t sign a guy for 4-5 years if you don’t think he can play.
Everyone in the clubhouse should get used to that idea.
IMO, Hurdle does stroke ego’s and he does baby some, he also kicks other guys in the pants once in a while and I do believe he has guys he does not want to play, how many guys has Huntington given him in the past that sat on the bench a week or two at a time, IMO, that is Hurdles way of telling Huntington I don’t want that guy. Do you really believe he did not baby Martin when he was here, do you really believe he does not baby McCutchen, do you really believe he did not kick Marte in the pants several times last year, deservedly or not.
There once was time when they did not care about your feelings or your ego, but that was a long time ago, not now.
Leadoff- Its not an opinion, it’s a fact. He surely does. Noone puts up with how bad barajas was, or how bad and hopeless it was anytime Barmes picked up a bat for the better part of his pirates career.
In terms of what he’s paid to do, that is exactly what they pay him for, because being a players manager is truly his only value. You could train a collie to execute better in game management and we still have one of the worst fundamental teams in the major leagues and to me- the basics are the managers fault. Things like baserunning, bunting, hitting cutoffs……. any manager who says, “I follow my gut” always worries me. I still think we win in spite of him, but the more succesful we are as a team, the more value a manager has who can pull a team together and work as one. I think Clint does that well
“Being a players manager is his only value”. What a bunch of unmitigated bs. Lol team has pushed 90 wins for 2 consecutive years and you want to reduce hurdle’s value to being a rah rah cheerleader. The man isn’t perfect but is a damn good manager. And getting guys to buy in and believe in a system after 20 years of abysmal failure is not something any “players manager” can do and should not be taken lightly.
Well….that is a part of coaching. You gotta treat players differently because they are different. You should, if you are trying to be your best, know which guys need and react well to getting a hard talk and which guys will just shut down when yelled at and play worse.
To act like a manager plays favorites with some guys seems to ignore the massive grey area that comes with managing a huge roster. Some guys dont need the rah rah stuff and you just talk to them and let them work out whatever it is, and some guys need the wake up call. Hurdle has really been very receptive to all the shifts and data that NH wants to use, so itd be odd that he stiffs the FO by benching guys for personal reasons.
It could also be a push, a reminder to the starters that no job is safe so you better perform well. Is it Kangs fault if he is doing better than one of the starters? I’m sure getting benched sucks but i’m also sure getting wins is more important than someones ego
I see it your way, but does Hurdle?
Hurdle has always gone with the hottest hitters at any given time until they begin to show signs of tailing off.
He kept on putting Harrison out there somewhere everyday last season because of that.
I’d like to think so, though i think he lets players attempt to work out of their slump a little longer than I would.
We did see something kinda similar with J-Hay last year. Pedro couldn’t throw and J-Hay was too good to not play.
I’m sure Pedro was upset, but i also bet he understood and hopefully uses it as fuel to get better.
“Work out their slump”
Depends on who it is IMO.
pretty much any starter i think? bench players generally don’t get as much leeway when they can go down and get more reps in the minors.
Along with veterans usually getting a longer leash than a young guy. Cutch and Walker will get some benefit of the doubt but we saw with Marte and Polanco that if a young guy struggles, there isnt a fear of offending them with the bench.
I haven’t really gotten the chance to watch him. How has his defense looked at short? I know there isn’t a ton to go on, yet, but are there any red flags?
That turn he just made was nice. Finally getting a chance to see him play.
I’ve noticed that he has a very strong throwing arm, allowing him to play back and make long accurate and quick throws from deep in the infield.
I only saw the one game and he made a couple really good plays, plus handled the routine plays cleanly. I’ve seen plenty of video during practices since he has arrived at Pirates camp and haven’t seen any red flags yet, but that is a relaxed setting, so you can’t take much from them.
Thanks, John. I figured from the highlights I saw from the KBO that his hands were probably going to be alright, but range and tendencies are really tough to gauge from just highlights. Good to know nothing alarming has popped up, though. Until that happens, there’s always hope he can be a shortstop.