Jang Hyun-seok (19-Masan Yongmago), who was considered the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 KBO First-Year Player Draft, has officially declared his intention to play Major League Baseball (ML) in the United States. While there is some controversy over whether or not he will participate in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), which he has already been selected for, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) says it doesn’t matter as they have selected the best player.안전놀이터
In a phone conversation with Star News on the 1st, a KBO official said, “In principle, there is no reason why a player should not be selected for the Asian Games just because he is challenging for the major leagues. At the time of the discussion, the power enhancement committee said that we should pick the most outstanding player without thinking about anything else. That’s why we picked Jang Hyun-seok from the 19 players recommended by the Korea Baseball Softball Association.” “Even at the time of the selection, there was a possibility that the player would not apply for the KBO League Draft. But there was no talk of not selecting him (to the national team) because of that. We only thought about selecting the best player from the recommended players.”
Jang Hyun-seok’s management company, Ricoh Sports Agency, said on the same day, “After much consideration, Jang Hyun-seok has decided not to apply for the KBO Draft and to challenge himself in the major leagues.” Jang said, “I apologize for making many people wait while I was deciding where to live. It was very difficult for me to decide because both the KBO and the major leagues were my dreams, but I made up my mind to challenge the major leagues in the end because of my desire to challenge the world’s top stage.”
Standing at 190 centimeters tall and weighing 90 kilograms, Jang Hyun-seok is a right-handed fireballer who can hit up to 157 kilometers per hour. His changeup and fastball are excellent. He has a curveball with a big drop in the low 130 kilometers per hour, a changeup, and a 140-kilometer slider that hits the top of the strike zone. In recent years, he has also honed his sweeper, which he often uses in practice. According to several scouts and KBO club officials, Moon’s talent is even better than that of recent first- and second-round draft picks such as Moon Dong-ju (20), Kim Seo-hyun (19-over Hanwha Eagles), Yoon Young-chul (19-KIA Tigers), and Shim Jun-seok (19-Pittsburgh Pirates).
His overwhelming performance earned him a spot on the South Korean national team in June, the only amateur player and the first high school player to do so. He will be one of 24 athletes selected for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in September. At the time, KEPCO President Cho Gye-hyun said, “The Asian Games is an amateur competition. Jang Hyun-seok has been checked since March this year, and he received the highest scores in the areas of pitching, speed, and game management.”
Although the Korean team is composed of players under the age of 25 or in their fourth year of professional competition, the team is considered a strong favorite to win the gold medal. The Asian Games gold medal also comes with an exemption from military service, so the team that selected Jang Hyun-seok after winning the gold medal could plan their development without worry. If Jang were to declare for the KBO draft, he would likely head to the Hanwha Eagles, who have the first pick. Hanwha already had Moon Dong-ju and Kim Seo-hyun, both of whom can throw 155 kilometers per hour, so it seemed like they could have a trio of hard-throwing homegrown starters in the KBO.
However, Jang Hyun-seok’s official announcement of his major league challenge prompted some baseball fans to call for his Asian Games eligibility to be revoked. The idea is to prioritize players who play for the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) leagues to receive military service exemptions for winning an Asian Games gold medal. If Jang Hyun-seok chooses to go to the United States, it’s unlikely we’ll see him on the national team in the future. If it doesn’t work out, he won’t be considered for the national team, and if it does work out, he’ll have to convince his major league team to play him.
The KBO’s stance is that there is no reason to disqualify Jang Hyun-seok from the national team, nor is there any justification for doing so. Not only is the amateur quota not aimed at players entering the KBO league, but Jang Hyun-seok has met the criteria for selecting the best players, and he is not guaranteed a gold medal at the Asian Games.
A KBO official said, “There are no roster changes unless there is an injury or other reason. It’s the player’s choice. Challenging the major leagues is not a reason to replace a player.”