“He is the best hitter in Korea.”
Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, arrived at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 18. After undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery) last year, Ryu has bounced back with a 3-3 record and a 3.46 ERA in 11 games this year. Ryu is now a veteran of 11 years in the major leagues. He cheered on his juniors who recently decided to try out for the United States.
In particular, Ryu was confident in Lee Jung-hoo’s success in the major leagues. “Lee Jung-hoo is the best hitter everyone recognizes. I hope he adapts quickly. I think he has enough competitiveness,” he said, adding that he was confident that the KBO star would be able to perform well in the big leagues.
Lee is knocking on the door of the major leagues this winter through the posting system (closed competitive bidding). Interest in Lee is also high in the United States. The San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres are among the teams bidding for Lee.
The most active is San Francisco. Recently, San Francisco general manager Pete Putilla visited Gocheok SkyDome to watch Lee play. It’s unusual for a high-ranking club official to travel to Korea to check on a player. Putilla watched Lee play closely and gave him a standing ovation for his performance.
Lee is one of the best hitters in the KBO. Last year, he won five batting titles, including batting average (0.349), on-base percentage (0.421), slugging percentage (0.575), hits (193), and RBIs (113), and was named MVP. The news of Lee’s performance reached the United States across the Pacific Ocean, and several major league teams were interested in him.
Although Lee hasn’t played much this year due to an ankle injury, interest in him hasn’t waned. Local media in the United States have also been reporting on Lee’s move. The Athletic, an American sports publication, said, “Major league teams will be very interested in Lee, who has solid outfield defense and a pioneering approach to drawing more walks than strikeouts. The Yankees will also want to sign him.” “San Diego, where the South Korean player plays, is also interested,” it added.
Ryu Hyun-jin and Kim Ha-seong, who has become San Diego’s starting second baseman, also predicted that Lee will play in the major leagues. Kim, who arrived in the country on the 11th, said, “I don’t have any advice for Lee Jung-hoo. He’s a very complete 사설토토 hitter. If he sees a lot of balls from major league hitters and adapts, I think he will be able to achieve good results.”
Meanwhile, Ryu will take a well-deserved break with his family in Korea and begin preparations for next season. “I’m going to keep my training the same,” Ryu said. Next year, I’ll have to build up my body so that I can play a full season,” he said.