Players who challenged the ‘dream stage’ MLB instead of the KBO League
Instead of the league, more and more players are challenging the MLB (American Professional Baseball), which is called the ‘dream stage’. Why do they go to America?
This is because the standard of living in the minor leagues, which must be passed to enter the MLB, has greatly improved. For those who dream, the saying, “Don’t go to the United States and eat bread wet with tears, do well in Korea and go after being treated” doesn’t work anymore.
Korean baseball prospects who challenged the MLB, which is called the ‘dream stage’. Jang Hyun-seok (from left), Shim Jun-seok, and Choi Byeong-yong. /Sports Chosun reporter Heo Sang-wook and Choi Byung-yong’s Instagram
Jang Hyun-seok, the leading ‘No.
Jang Hyun-seok (19), a right-handed pitcher from Masan Yongma High School, who was the only “amateur player” on the baseball team roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games that will open in September, chose to challenge the MLB. Jang Hyun-seok is a special player who was likely to be the ‘1st place’ in this year’s rookie draft.
On the 9th, Ricoh Sports Agency, Jang Hyun-seok’s management company, announced that “Jang Hyun-seok signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a down payment of 900,000 dollars (approximately 1.198 billion won).” Earlier, on the 1st, Jang Hyun-seok announced that he would challenge the American stage without submitting an application for the domestic professional baseball rookie draft to be held in September.
Masan Yongmago Jang Hyeon-seok. /Reporter Jeong Jae-geun Sports Chosun
Equipped with a sturdy physique (190 cm, 90 kg), he throws a fastball with a maximum speed of 157 km per hour, and is evaluated for his excellent ability to use curveballs and sliders. He played an active part in the high school stage this year with 9 games (29 innings), 3 wins (undefeated), an average ERA of 0.93 and 52 strikeouts. Analysts in the U.S. say that he has the quality to increase his velocity to over 100 miles per hour if he is properly trained in the American minor leagues. Jang Hyun-seok said, “I decided to challenge the major leagues (instead of domestic professional baseball) because of my desire to play on the world’s best stage.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers is the first MLB team of Korea’s first major leaguer, “Korean Express,” Park Chan-ho (50), and “Korean Monster,” Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays), who recently returned from an injury. Attention is focusing on whether Jang Hyun-seok will be able to continue the ‘Korean’ genealogy here.
Shim Jun-seok, the leading ‘ranking 1’ last year, “It is my dream to play baseball in the United States”
Before Jang Hyun-seok, there was Shim Jun-seok.
Shim Jun-seok (19, Deoksu High School at the time), who had virtually reserved the rookie draft as a super high school pitcher by spraying a fastball approaching 157 km/h at the Blue Dragon High School Baseball Championship last year, broke expectations and declared a challenge on the MLB stage. and chose to go to the US.
At the time, Kim Seo-hyun (1st place Hanwha), Yoon Young-cheol (2nd place KIA), and Shin Young-woo (4th place NC), who formed the “fourth place” of high school pitchers, were all in contrast to what remained in Korea.
Sim Jun-seok cheers with open arms on the mound at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA when he joined the team. /Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter
Afterwards, the size of the down payment (750,000 dollars, approximately 990 million won) known by local media reports fell below expectations, but Shim Jun-seok said when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in January, “It was my dream to play baseball in the United States since I was young, and that I came here to make my dream come true,” he said confidently.
Shim Joon-seok, who has an average speed of 94 to 96 miles (about 151 to 154 km) for a fastball when he is tall (194 cm), also has a curve ball with a large drop. However, insecurity was cited as a weakness. If he trains steadily in the minor leagues, he is expected to command a fast ball of more than 100 miles (about 161 km per hour) in the future with control power equipped. Currently, Shim Jun-seok pitched in two games in the Florida Complex League (FCL), a rookie level, and is recording 1 run in 5 1/3 innings (average ERA of 1.69).
Dream of MLB even if not selected in KBO
Choi Byeong-yong (21) from Shinil High School, who was not nominated in the 2021 KBO Rookie Draft, was called by the San Diego Padres with the 611th overall pick in the 20th round of the MLB Draft on the 11th of last month. fourth from the back. It was a dramatic confluence. It was the first time that a player who had graduated from a high school in Korea received an MLB rookie nomination after going through an American university (two-year college, New Mexico Military Institute).
Byung-Yong Choi. /Choi Byung-yong’s Instagram
Choi Byung-yong, who was not called by a domestic professional baseball team in 2021, is said to have been so discouraged that he did not come out of the room for a while. However, thanks to his friend’s father who noticed his talent and the baseball study abroad program of Nam Ji-hyeon, the head of Crossbaseball, he crossed over to the United States and passed the first gate for the ‘American Dream’.
The reason Choi Byung-yong was able to move to the United States was because of Crossbaseball’s baseball study abroad program. Cross Baseball is a consulting company specializing in studying baseball at an American university founded by CEO Nam, a non-baseball player, after resigning from a large company. Since 2018, Nam has been calling American university coaches to Korea every year to hold a ‘showcase’ for high school baseball players who have not been nominated for the KBO.
However, during the time of Choi Byung-yong, coaches could not be brought to Korea due to the corona crisis. That’s how we had no choice but to replace ‘showcase’ with a video. As a result, coaches who could not directly check the players’ skills were passive in selecting players, and in the end, no one showed interest. So Nam reached out to other university coaches with whom he had not been in contact before. One of the schools that held hands was the New Mexico Military Institute, a two-year college that embraced Choi Byung-yong. Recognized for his skills, Choi Byeong-yong entered the New Mexico Military Institute as a full scholarship student.
Here, Choi Byeong-yong gnawed his teeth and devoted himself to baseball. After being contacted by his main magazine, he literally “hardened his mindset and lived crazy about baseball.” But if you don’t communicate, you will be alienated and indolent. He was absorbed in studying English as well as baseball. “It is true that it was difficult to adapt when I first came (to the United States) because the language, culture, and food were all different,” he said.
However, Choi Byung-yong confessed that he did not have MLB in mind from the beginning. It is said that after honing his skills in the United States for two years, he returned to Korea and tried to participate in the KBO draft again. However, because his batting performance was so hot this year, his second year, MLB showed interest, and his name was dramatically called. He played in 58 collegiate league games this year and left an astounding record of batting average of 0.448 (90 hits in 201 bats), 15 homers, 80 RBIs, 71 points, 45 walks, 10 stolen bases, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 1.429.
He admits, “I think that others can think that I will fail (in the MLB challenge),” but “But I don’t think so. Even if you think that you can do well, time is not enough. No one knows baseball. I will definitely show you the last rebellion drama. I am confident,” he said, burning his fighting spirit.
Minor league life without ‘bread soaked in tears’
As such, the reason why high school superstar players and players like Choi Byung-yong chose to challenge the MLB instead of the domestic professional baseball stage for two consecutive years is that the treatment of minor league players has greatly improved according to the MLB labor-management agreement in March 2023.
High school and college graduates who have yet to show their performance as professional players have to go through a fierce minor league life instead of going straight to the MLB stage. The US Minor League starts at the lower level and consists of Rookie-Single A-Double A-Triple A, which can be skipped. For example, you can go straight from Double A to MLB.
In the past, life in the minor leagues was often compared to “eating bread soaked in tears.” In fact, even before the labor-management agreement, the average annual salary of rookie players was only $4,800 (about 6.33 million won), and Single A ($11,000), Double A ($13,800), and Triple A ($17,500) were no different. There was no difference. It was even less than the minimum annual salary of 30 million won in the domestic KBO league. Because of this, it was not strange for US minor leaguers to play ‘two jobs’.먹튀검증
However, after the labor-management agreement, the annual salary of rookie players rose to $19,800, single-A players $26,000 to $27,000, double-A $30,250, and triple-A $35,800. Starting in 2024, Double-A and Triple-A players will receive single-room housing, and rookie and Single-A players will receive on-field transportation and meals. In other words, including the down payment, there is no great difficulty in focusing on baseball.
And it is also a good thing that the timing for minor league players to enter the big leagues is getting faster. In the past, it usually took more than 4 years to step on the MLB ground even if you achieved outstanding results in the minor leagues. It is a difficult period for players. However, he now says that he can see the match within three years after joining.
Even if you fail after trying to your heart’s content for three years in your early twenties, you have enough material and time to come back to Korea and prepare a stepping stone for a comeback.
If you don’t try, you get a 0% chance, and if you do, you get a 50% chance. We wish those who have taken on difficult challenges for their dreams, leaving behind the topic and popularity of the moment, good luck.