Why were the Los Angeles Dodgers so serious about signing Jang Hyun-seok (19, Masan Yongmago), and what drew them to send a scout to Korea three years ago?
John Dibble, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ director of scouting for the Pacific region, attended Jang’s induction ceremony at the Seoul Dragon City Hotel on Nov. 14 and revealed why the Dodgers spent $900,000 (about 1.1 billion won) to sign him.
Jang Hyun-seok signed a contract to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, a prestigious Major League Baseball team, for $900,000 on July 9 (KST). Jang Hyun-seok, a high school pitcher, was expected to be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 KBO Draft, but he opted out of the draft and went to the United States. To acquire Jang, the Dodgers sent two pitchers to the Chicago White Sox before the trade deadline to free up international bonus pool space. The bonus pool is the amount of international player salary cap space allocated to each team.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder dominated the high school scene this year, going 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 52 strikeouts in nine games. He was the only amateur to make the national team for the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023, and attracted the attention of scouts from eight major league teams, including the Dodgers, at the recent Qinglong High School Baseball Tournament. Jang is considered to have a four-seam fastball that reaches up to 157 kilometers, as well as a variety of pitches including curveballs, sliders and changeups.
The Dodgers sent a scout to watch Jang Hyun-seok for three years before signing him. They recognized Jang’s talent from his middle school days in Gyeongju. “We have been sending scouts to watch Jang Hyun-seok since he was in middle school,” said Dibble. We had seven scouts checking on him, and all seven recognized his talent, so the signing process went forward. “We are very happy to have him join us,” he said behind the scenes.
One of Jang’s biggest strengths is his fighting spirit. At the national tournament, Jang made a splash by roaring at the end of each inning, unlike other players. “Of course, his fastball, physique, and changeup were impressive, but more than that, his desire to win, his competitiveness, his fighting spirit, and the way he played on the mound stood out. That’s what you see in players who are playing in the major leagues.”
In terms of pitches and performance, he had the highest praise for an amateur player. Jang Hyun-seok’s curveball reminded him of a major league legend. “Josh Beckett’s curve, which I saw when I was a minor league manager, is similar to Jang Hyun-seok’s curve,” said Dibble. “I’m also close to Kim Byung-hyun, so I recently talked to him and asked him why he signs players who only strike out three or four times in high school baseball. In the past, Park Chan-ho and Kim Byung-hyun struck out 20 at the amateur level, but when I saw Jang Hyun-seok’s 14 strikeouts, I remembered that conversation.”
Beckett is a legendary pitcher who made his major league debut in 2001 with the Florida Marlins (now Miami) and won 138 games (106 losses) in 14 seasons before retiring with the Dodgers in 2014. He was named an All-Star in 2007, 2009, and 2011 after winning 20 games, and won championship rings with Florida in 2003 and the Boston Red Sox in 2007, earning World Series MVP honors in 2003. He pitched a nine-inning shutout in Game 6 of the World Series.
Jang Hyun-seok also pitched a relief appearance in the quarterfinals of the Cheongnyonggi against Jang Chung-go at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul on Aug. 24, throwing 6⅔ innings of three-hit ball, striking out 14 and walking none while throwing 102 pitches in front of several major league scouts.
The Dodgers’ international scout in charge of Korea praised Jang’s willingness to learn. “I appreciated his curiosity,” said Dean Kim. He was eager to learn. He was curious about pitching and data, and I thought that would be a good synergy with the club in the minor leagues.”
“Before I started scouting, I started working as an interpreter for Choi Hyun-il. I felt and experienced minor league life with him, and the difference between Korea and Japan is that they use practice time very efficiently. In other words, they have a lot of personal time, and it’s important to utilize it efficiently. I will try to help you with that.”토토사이트
On officially becoming a Dodger, Jang Hyun-seok said, “I didn’t expect to go to the Dodgers, but it’s an honor to wear the uniform. I knew they were interested in me, but I didn’t expect it to be like this. They’ve been watching me for a long time.” “I want to be a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been with the Dodgers for a long time and has been the number one starter. I want to be a starter too,” he said, vowing to succeed in the major leagues.