Korean stars Jae-gyun Hwang and Byung-ho Park may soon be joining countryman Jung-ho Kang in making the KBO to MLB transition. (Hwang will be posted next Monday, while Park is in a negotiating window with the Twins.) But perhaps the most interesting trans-Pacific baseball story is playing out on the Korean peninsula. Former big league outfielder Eric Thames was recently named the 2015 KBO MVP. Thames, who just turned 29, showed some pop and promise in North America, but never quite seized an opportunity and moved to Korea after he failed to receive a big league call-up in his age-26 campaign. All he’s done since is devastate his new league, putting up consecutive seasons with an OPS of over 1.100. Thames is under contract with the NC Dinos for one more campaign, but figures to draw strong interest from Japan’s NPB as well as major league organizations if he can post anything approaching his 2015 numbers, which were ridiculous even for the hitter-friendly KBO: .381/.497/.790 with 47 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 595 plate appearances.
If you’re interested in taking a peek at Thames’ exploits, check out this Naver Sports highlight video. Here are some other notes on the international market:
- Free agent first baseman Dae-ho Lee — a South Korean who has been playing in Japan — will visit the United States in early December to meet with MLB clubs, according to another report from Yoo. The 33-year-old power hitter is drawing interest from “multiple” teams, his Korean agency (Montis) tells Yoo. He’s already shown he ability to excel in both the KBO and NPB and last year was his best in Japan, as he slashed .282/.368/.524 with 31 home runs.
- While the Asian markets have grabbed much of the recent attention, Cuba remains a hotbed for international activity. Baseball America’s Ben Badler has the latest on a variety of intriguing players from the neighboring island. The Reds appear to be in the lead to sign slick defender Alfredo Rodriguez, says Badler, while the Cubs and Dodgers are expected to lead the charge on other bonus-pool-bound players that become eligible to sign out of Cuba.
- Badler also has some updates on a group of other touted players. Outfielder Guillermo Heredia and righty Vladimir Gutierrez are training in Florida and holding private workouts, while pitchers Norge Ruiz and Cionel Perez are set to hold showcases in the coming weeks.
Norge is one of my favorite Cuban prospects ive seen. He could be a good number 2, inexpensively.
If those are the numbers Thames can put up, I want to see what Trout or Harper would be able to do
pat r. 2
They’d be 100hr demigods over there
3.000 OPS – 3 homers a game, 80-80 seasons.
Or even better…what Harper and DONALDSON would do.
see, i was just thinking – you never know – thames might have gotten better. sometimes guys break out. imagine what we’d be saying if donaldson had gone to korea after 2012, and put up even just the numbers he’s actually put up in MLB since then, never mind what he would have done if he was over there. we’d all be like “lol korean league”
also, did we ever really find out exactly how good thames was when he was over here? i don’t actually feel like i know for sure what he is. i looked at his minor league stats and they’re pretty good, and he never really received THAT much of a shot in the bigs. maybe he was just always a bit better than we thought.
Thames numbers are no joke, it’s insane he’s not in the bigs right now. A 40-40 season with a near 1.300 OPS? Come on, he’s a big leaguer someone go get him!
– Average FB/LD Velocity (2015 season) –
Giancarlo Stanton: 101.94
Byung Ho Park:100.36
Miguel Sano: 99.80
Pedro Alvarez: 99.02
Paul Goldschmidt: 97.31
Nelson Cruz: 97.25
Chris Carter: 97.25
Chris Davis: 97.05
Eric Thames: 95.49
– Average HR distance (2015 season) –
Byung-ho Park: 440.0
Joc Pederson: 421.7
Giancarlo Stanton: 417.6
Pedro Alvarez: 416.5
Eric Thames: 405.1
That is still not bad lol.
Average distance better than Chris Davis’ 404.5, who just led MLB in HR’s for the 2nd time in 3 years.
Can Eric Thames be posted? He bats left handed and has huge power potential, so I can imagine there’s a lot of interest.
What a the posting rules for an American player in the KBO and NPB?
Barnette is coming from the NPB. mlbtraderumors.com/2015/11/tony-barnette-posted.ht…. Seemingly first ever.
Not sure if KBO is different, but regardless, I’ve seen no suggestion of that happening this winter for Thames.
yes, i believe the posting rules for foreign players in the KBO and NPB are the same as for any other player – if they’re under team control, they can be posted. there’s barnette as you say, and i read somewhere (while reading about barnette) that the first few posting cases in japan were actually minor american pitchers, although no one cared and none of the moves actually went through.
but yeah, thames was just MVP of the whole league, and i don’t think his team is one of the major korean teams, so he’s probably one of their main attractions. so they’re not selling him
Don’t seem right but he must be posted
That Thames highlight video is outstanding.
Your Lee Dae Ho numbers are off by one year, he had 19 hr in his 3rd NPB season. In his 4th season in 2015 (2nd with Softbank Hawks) he hit 31 hr had 98rbi and slashed .282/.347/.545
Ugh, B-Ref uses this bizarre second header that keeps throwing me off. The slash I’m seeing on there is actually .282/.368/.524, so that’s what I changed it to.
Lol, of course the Reds want Alfredo Rodriguez. He can’t hit a lick. He’ll fit right in.
Thames numbers are insane. Any level of play, those numbers have to be respected. Very bonds like…. What’s the PHD testing like in the KBO? Sorry to be that guy, but just curious
like six years of grad school and a dissertation, same as here