South Korean Paper
I do not read Korean and the Google translator is confused by a few words. I assume "maximum strength fat guts" means something equivalent to having nerves of steel. I don't know. What we can glean from the article is the outline of a pretty impressive talent. Sung-min is a high school left handed pitcher who has a 89.5 mph fastball. He also has a curve and a "remarkable" circle change. He is listed as 5'10.5 and weighing in at 181 lbs. There is no information on the financials.
The Baltimore Beat
The Sun's Eduardo Encina talked to a team source and came up with the following pitcher. Sung-min at 17 is the best left handed high school pitching prospect in South Korea (which is similar to being the best high school left handed pitching prospect in Rhode Island--that can be quite good and it could be quite poor). He is 5'10 and 180 lbs with a high 80s fastball, an above average 12-to-6 curveball, and an above average change up. They expect him to become 6'1. These pitches are expected to progress as he ages (this means that all three pitches will be plus pitches). He will play a few weeks at the academy in Los Angeles before heading over to the Orioles' facility in Florida.
The National Writer
Keith Law reminds me of Frau Blücher. You mention his name in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and you will surely hear some snorting and gnashing of teeth. That certainly was the case when the following was written from his twitter account:
The O's gave $550K to a 5'9" Korean HS lefty throwing 80-83 with no feel for a breaking ball. Nice use of savings from cutting pro scouting.With respect to the Orioles projection of Sung-min growing a few more inches, Law wrote in a chat:
Predicting body development is a big part of scouts' jobs, although it's usually about a frame filling out more than a player growing three freaking inches after his 18th birthday, which is pretty rare. A scout would also want to meet the parents and see how tall they are, how broad, how heavy, etc. I'm much more comfortable looking at a 17-year-old Tyler Skaggs and telling you he'll add velocity because he's tall and thin with broad shoulders rather than looking at a 17-year-old Jarrod Parker and telling you he'll grow from 6' to 6'3" because I like his fastball.I agree with Law on this last point. Final height determinations are quite difficult and are often guesswork even when you understand family genetics and have a long term growth pattern documented from the player. You could get even more exact with more invasive medicals procedures, but that seems an unlikely scenario for an upstart operation in South Korea. I really do not know if anyone is using that approach.
Like Rashomon, I do not know what the reality is. I am drawn into Encina's article as something I want to be true. Sung-min, a player on a well covered Junior national team, somehow slips through the cracks even though he is a lefty with potentially three plus pitches. Typically, a player like that would be followed by many teams and would be worth a couple million. The South Korean paper appears more tame, but we don't really know if the papers used the same source. Many aspects are similar between the two players with the Baltimore account having a greater eye to the future and what Sung-min could become. Law's account is a dousing of cold water.
In all honesty, all three could be accurate. Law's information could have come from an earlier outing or on one of the player's bad days. The Korean article may be an account from an Orioles' scout highlighting the performance when everything was clicking. The Baltimore Sun account may be a summation of the high points and a focus on the top 1% outcome. When he reports to Florida, we will likely have much of this progressing toward some answers.
Right now, I would not put too much stock in any of these evaluations. How could you?