John Deeble, scouting director for the Los Angeles Dodgers of the American Major League (MLB) Pacific Region, explained the background of the recruitment of right-handed pitcher Jang Hyun-seok (19), the “largest fish in high school.”
Jang Hyun-seok, a graduate of Yongsan High School in Masan, caught the eyes of major league scouts as a super high school level pitcher. Equipped with a stocky physique of 190 cm and 90 kg, he threw a fastball with a maximum speed of 157 km/h, and was evaluated for his excellent ability to use curveballs and sliders.
On the high school stage this year, Jang Hyun-seok pitched in 9 games (29 innings) and flew 3 wins (undefeated) with an average ERA of 0.93 and 52 strikeouts. In particular, at the recently held Blue Dragon High School Baseball Championship, the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but Jang Hyun-seok played two games (10 innings), striking out 20 and giving up no runs, drawing attention.
Among the many major league clubs that showed interest in Jang Hyun-seok, the Dodgers most aggressively attempted to recruit him. Jang Hyun-seok, who did not submit an application for the domestic professional baseball rookie draft, eventually signed a contract worth 900,000 dollars (approximately 1.185 billion won) with the Dodgers on the 9th and succeeded in advancing into the United States.
On the 14th, director John Dibble attended the press conference for Chang Hyun-seok joining the Dodgers held at the Dragon City Hotel in Seoul. He handed Jang Hyun-seok a uniform with the number 18 on it and a hat to congratulate him on joining the team.
Director John Dibble, who later interviewed reporters, highly praised Jang Hyun-seok’s potential. He said, “We started watching Jang Hyun-seok from 2020 when the Corona 19 pandemic ended,” he said.
The Dodgers launched an active love offensive toward Jang Hyun-seok. He was to the point of making a trade of a promising player earlier to recruit Jang Hyun-seok. Sending pitchers Aldrin Batista and Maximo Martinez to the Chicago White Sox to secure a bonus pool.
The International Amateur Bonus Pool is an upper limit on the total amount of international player contracts allocated to each major league club. It is set differently depending on the size of the club, but the bonus pool of the Dodgers is 4.144 million dollars (approximately 5.47 billion won), which is the smallest among the 30 major league clubs along with the Texas Rangers. Recently, I was in a situation where the bonus pool was only $65 million (about 8.59 million won) left.
The Dodgers’ will to recruit Jang Hyun-seok was strong enough to set up a bonus pool by trading prospects. Director John Dibble said, “I was confident because many scouts observed Jang Hyun-seok,” and “I tried to secure a bonus pool through trade, and I thought it was right to spend a down payment on Jang Hyun-seok.”
Lee Ye-rang, CEO of Ricoh Sports Agency, who was in charge of Jang Hyun-seok’s contract, said, “International contracts have become very complicated since the bonus pool was introduced in 2017.” He told the situation at the time. However, he smiled, saying, “The Dodgers kept their promise and secured a bonus pool through trade, and was able to sign a good contract.”
What kind of ability did the Dodgers highly evaluate Jang Hyun-seok and ventured into recruiting? Director John Dibble said, “Of course, we will look at his ability to use speed and breaking balls, but if we had to pick one of them, we focused on his performance on the mound, such as his desire to compete, his competitive spirit, and his fighting spirit.” I could,” he said, raising his thumb.
In particular, director John Dibble, who watched Jang Hyun-seok’s last game before signing the contract, recalled, “I saw that he had to stop 메이저놀이터 this situation unconditionally. It was impressive to see him striking out while throwing a mixture of pitches.” Jang Hyun-seok played 6⅔ scoreless innings, striking out as many as 14 that day. He added, “I had a lot of conversations with Jang Hyun-seok, and I thought that his curiosity about baseball and his willingness to learn would create good synergy with the club.”
When director John Deebel saw Jang Hyun-seok, he thought of Josh Beckett (43), former World Series MVP. He said, “I worked as a manager in the minor leagues before working as a scouting director, and there was Beckett among the pitchers I worked with.
Beckett is a legendary pitcher who has played in 335 major league games, with a record of 138 wins, 106 losses, and an ERA of 3.88. He led the 2003 Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) and the 2007 Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, and is a three-time All-Star selection, 2003 World Series MVP, and 2007 American League.
Jang Hyun-seok, who wore number 19 at Yongma High School, received a Dodgers uniform with number 18 on it. Jang Hyun-seok said, “I didn’t decide on the number,” but director John Dibble explained, “I had to prepare the uniform quickly because time was running out.” Number 18 was worn by Japanese pitchers such as Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kenta Maeda, Hiroki Kuroda, and Hisashi Iwakuma as they advanced to the major leagues.
The Dodgers are famous for being good at nurturing pitching prospects. He has developed big league pitchers such as Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Bobby Miller. Jang Hyeon-seok, who was fascinated by this aspect of the Dodgers, said, “I chose (transfer) because he is known to be the best at raising pitchers.”
When asked about the secret of the Dodgers’ pitcher development, director John Dibble expressed his confidence, saying, “The coaches are so good that there is no problem in improving their skills no matter what player they bring in.” He continued, “When I explained the club’s training system to Jang Hyun-seok, he seemed very surprised,” laughing.
The work to develop Jang Hyun-seok into a big league pitcher has already begun. Director John Dibble said, “The process of figuring out Jang Hyun-seok’s condition has already begun. We are focusing on identifying the player’s strengths and weaknesses.” I am digesting the training program that was sent to me.”
However, he kept quiet about the timing of Jang Hyun-seok’s big league debut. “The conditioning coach is already checking Jang Hyun-seok’s physical condition in Korea,” said director John Dibble. “I think we’ll have to wait and see where he goes in the minor leagues,” he said.
Jang Hyun-seok was named as the only amateur player on the baseball team roster for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which will be held in September. In response, director John Dibble said, “Not only in the Asian Games, but also in future WBC appearances, the club has decided to unconditionally support the player’s selection for the national team.”