Tuesday, October 30, 2012

KBO Scouting Reports: Jin Woo Kim and Kyung-Eun Noh

Here are scouting reports on two pitchers in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO):

Kyung-Eun Noh (노경은) had a miserable 2011 if you look just at his ERA (5.17), but his FIP was alright at 3.75 (league average ERA in 2010 was 4.58. Baseball Reference doesn't have data on 2011-2012 for some odd reason).
In 2012 he was much better with nearly a strikeout an inning and a 2.53 ERA. Some of this is just DIPS correction, but it does seem he pitched better overall in 2012. There are heat maps available on KBO pitchers at this site and they suggest that Noh was avoiding the middle of the plate in 2012 more than he was in 2011.


It does seem that he did a good job of working both sides of the zone if the heat maps are accurate. Something Noh does a good job of is get a lot of grounders, as even in 2011 he had a 0.76 FO/GB (GB/FB inverted, which is what MyKBO.net uses).

The Korean Data site has a list of the pitches the KBO pitchers throw, but just gives pitch ranges, so I used the median for each pitch he throws to give sort of an average.

Noh's fastball is just about 90 MPH, here are his other pitches:

83.39 MPH slider: his most frequent breaking ball

81.22 MPH curve (so a harder curve than most curves). He doesn't use it very often according to the scouting report.

84.01 MPH Forkball. He likes to use it when he is ahead.

Also what I think is a cutter (the word translated as Kurt) at 87.73 MPH. Doesn't use it often according to the report.

Noh has a history of elbow issues that have really cut into his career, and the switch from the bullpen to the starter role (and the jump of innings) is somewhat concerning. He will turn 29 in Spring Training.

Obviously you aren't going to find many (or any) MLB pitchers with a forkball. So we will look at splitters or changes in comparisons.

Hisashi Iwakuma is sort of an interesting comparison (though it sounds racially lazy), though Noh's slider is harder, forkball is slower than Iwakuma's splitter, and his curve is much harder. Joel Peralta is pretty close, other than not having a slider. Mike Minor is really close if you imagine that the forkball and change are basically the same thing. Obviously Minor throws left-handed, which makes the comparison less believable. 2012 Tim Lincecum looks really similar on paper as far as pitch velocity and repitoire, but  Noh doesn't get the kind of movement Lincecum does (though it looks pretty nice):

You see him hit nearly 94 MPH in the video, so his fastball is plus is short spurts. This video (and the one below) gives you a nice look of his mechanics. The forkball plays a prominent role in the video, and I don't think it is a good pitch (though he seems to command it well).

Jin Woo Kim (김진우) is another RHP with the following list of pitches:

91.76 MPH fastball

88.35 MPH sinker

83.39 MPH slider

79.98 MPH change 

76.57 curve is his "main weapon"

Casey Janssen, the Blue Jays excellent reliever, seems to be similar, other than Kim doesn't have the cutter (which is obviously Janssen's repertoire). Amazingly, Kim's change is slower for the fastball that he has than most MLB pitchers. Brad Brach has a similar fastball (a tick higher) and a change that is actually slower, but he isn't very similar to Kim at all. If you just ignore the changeup, Josh Kinney is an interesting comparison as is Christian Friedrich, the Rockies pitcher. 

Kim will turn 30 in March and has had a pretty interesting career path. As you can see, he is a pretty big guy, perhaps even a little pudgy (though that doesn't really seem to matter, as guys like Sidney Ponson and C.C. Sabathia have shown that you can pitch at a big weight at obviously varying success rates). His mechanics seem pretty clean and standard. He has what looks like a long leg kick. His control in the video borders from below average to poor, but I am really hesitant to base much on that. He did walk 50 batters in 133 2/3rd innings, which isn't awful or even bad, but probably a little too high in the KBO (league average was 3.8 in 2010, so it is at least better than average).
That is a pretty nice looking curve (see 55 seconds in the video). He releases the ball from a weird hand angle (see 1:05) that gives it the good spin. The slider is sort of a baby slider that he can throw for strikes, but it has some nice spin when he doesn't hang it.

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