KBO All Star Yoon Suk-Min Coming Soon To A Ball-Park Near You
Recently, the Korean paper ChosunIlbo reported that Korean star pitcher, Suk-Min Yoon was coming over to America to try out for MLB clubs. Here’s a look at the 27 year old, Team Korea starting pitcher, Suk-Min Yoon who should garner a lot of attention especially since he is able to sign as a Free Agent and does not have to be posted.
Yoon, is currently a starting pitcher for the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and stands at 6’0 while weighing in at 180 lbs. Over his past 5 years in the KBO, Yoon has averaged a 3.37 ERA and a 8.48 k/9 rate. Yoon has also already been selected to 3 KBO All Star Games and won a league MVP award despite being at only age 27 and not having truly entered his prime yet.
According to his Korean League scouting report, Yoon features an enormous repertoire of pitches. He is able to throw 6 pitches, a 4-seam fastball/curve/slider/change/sinker/forkball mix. The speed of his fastball is stated to range between 87-95MPH, which probably means Yoon sits comfortably between 89-91mph.
From this video of him pitching, Yoon’s curveball looks more like a knuckle curve or a slow curve and functions as a “show-me” curveball, while his Slider looks more like a sinker, as it profiles immense vertical movement as opposed to horizontal movement. Yoon’s change-up is probably thrown with a circle-change type grip, as it tails away and bottoms out on left-handed batters.
The change-up looks to serve as Yoon’s out-pitch against left handed batters while the slider is his go-to pitch against right handed batters. Yoon will probably look to rely more on his change-up in the Majors however, as it looks to be his best pitch. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan seems to think so as well. Yoon uses his fastball to locate and set up his off-speed pitches and as long as he continues to do this in the majors, he will find success. His fastball is certainly not overpowering, but is fast enough to allow his off-speed stuff to work effectively.
Scott Boras sees Yoon as a “Kyle Lohse type” but since he is Yoon’s agent, you’ll probably have to take that with a grain of salt. With that being said however, the upside Boras sees in Lohse and Yoon may be similar so Yoon could project to having 3 above average pitches in the Majors eventually if he keeps improving.
As they both hail from the KBO, there have been a lot of comparisons attempted to be drawn between Yoon and fellow Korean countryman Hyun-jin Ryu. However Yoon certainly isn’t and probably will never be the workhorse Hyun-jin Ryu is. The number 172 represents the highest amount of innings in a season Yoon has ever pitched in the KBO and while that may not completely be his fault, shoulder issues have sidelined Yoon for quite a portion of his young career. It should be known that Yoon was originally drafted and used as a high-leverage reliever and closer by the KIA Tigers until the 2007 season, when he was taken out of the bullpen and effectively transitioned into a starting role. Since then however, the KIA Tigers have jerked Yoon around the closing and the starting role because of injuries to the team and injuries to Yoon as well. As a result, Yoon tends to have a lower amount of Innings Pitched than your typical starting pitcher and a couple of saves next to a record and a statline that looks like it should belong to a Starting Pitcher.
Last year, it was reported than Yoon had hurt his shoulder during the World Baseball Classic and as a result began the season injured. When he returned, the KIA Tigers once again moved him to the closers role, where Yoon put up the lowest numbers of his career. It was also reported that Yoon lost 2MPH on his fastball. Though one has to wonder how much Yoon’s reported unhappiness over being constantly jerked around the starting and closing role had to do with his lackluster performance.
At the end of the 2013 season, Yoon ended all speculation by announcing that he would seek to sign with a Major League team for 2014. There is certainly a lot of interest for Yoon out there in the majors as he is qualified as an International Free Agent and doesn’t need to be posted to be signed. He is however, a Scott Boras client, so you have to wonder how much money Yoon is looking for. With that being said however, Free Agency in the KBO doesn’t seem to be very pleasant so it provides a little bit of extra incentive for Yoon to sign in America.
The Twins are said to be heavily invested in the scouting process for Yoon, while according to MLBTradeRumors, the Royals, Cubs, Orioles and Rays all have Korean scouts and are said to be evaluating Yoon as well. With the amount of money Yoon will eventually receive if he signs, he will be given all chances to be a starting pitcher in a Major League rotation.
Yoon projects to be a 3/4/5 starter in a major league ration while possibly having #2 starter upside if he reaches his projected “Kyle Lohse” ceiling. While Yoon’s shoulder may be an issue in his later career, Yoon has shown versatility with the amount of roles he can pitch in while pitching for the KIA Tigers, which should allow MLB teams to bid confidently in his services.