Friday, January 25, 2013

Choi Jung Scouting Report

I was putting together a scouting report on Choi Jung for a podcast I was going to be on, but we ended up only talking about Yoon Suk Min, so I decided to turn my notes into an article.

Jung is a KBO 3rd baseman for the SK Wyrens who should be granted free agency after the season and rumors have it that he is interested in coming to the United States to play in the Majors. I've written before than I don't believe their are any positional player from the KBO are MLB prospects, (and I still haven't found a real exception) but let's rate Jung anyway.

Offensively, I do have Kang Jung-Ho and Park Byung-Ho that played for Nexen as better offensive players (both baserunning and hitting combined) as better than Jung in 2012, but Jung does seem to be a pretty balanced player, with above average baserunning and defensive skills to go with his offense. Without the defense, he was slightly over a 6 win (over replacement player) player in 2012, so he really is one of the elite players in the KBO. Last year, I wrote about that there aren't any MLB offensive or position player prospects in the KBO. Jung's K/BB wasn't that impressive in 2012, about 2 to 1, but he does walk a reasonable amount and hit a lot of fly-balls.

He seems to use the whole field pretty well, at least that is what his spray charts suggest. He is considered to have good bat speed, and I have to agree, you can't really get in on him because his wrists are so quick. He uses an uppercut swing to get under the ball, which is one of the reasons he hits for power and hits so many fly-balls.

I'm not going to compare his assist data to MLB players because there is a bias in just pure batted balls between the two leagues, but he seems to be the 2nd best defensive 3rd baseman in the KBO according to the 2012 data. His throwing motion isn't exactly ideal, as he comes down a little more arm slot wise than you would normally want, but the arm strength seems to be there. His footwork also seems to be a little messy and his body doesn't go with his arm, which may lead to a lot of inaccurate throws. As far as size, athleticism, and range goes, I don't really see any reason why he couldn't be at least a decent defensive 3rd baseman in the big leagues, and it doesn't look like he will have to move off the position anytime soon.

 I don't see a MLB starter in Choi, and backup infielders don't have great value if they can't play shortstop. This is why he wouldn't have as much value as say Kensuke Tanaka, the former Fighter shortstop that is now with the Giants. I think Choi likely has more power, but Tanaka has the positional value, and he had to take a minor league contract. Obviously we will see how he plays in 2013, but it is hard to see him getting a guaranteed contract in the Majors. He may actually fit on a NPB roster better.

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