If one wishes to engage in hyperbole, then we can puts comps on each of the major Korean position players in the world of MLB. Kim would be Ty Cobb to Park's Ruth and Jung-ho Kang's Honus Wagner. Kang can hit well, but is not so regarded with his glove. Park hits the ball a mile. Kim is considered an artist with the bat with defense that likely shows average and an arm that shows less. While some may optimistically see a prime Nate McLouth in him, the more likely projection would perhaps be something near Melky Cabrera or perhaps Nick Markakis. A player who can get the bat on the ball, but the contact may not be incredibly meaningful and he does not have the wheels to exploit long line drives. He'll likely show gap to gap power, pulling in 10-15 home runs a year.
Below is how his career has gone in the KBO:
|All Levels (10 Seasons)||4768||230||142||597||501||.318||.406||.488|
You may remember that I put together a model to project MLB performance from players who have made the transition either from MLB to KBO or vice versa. The pool was restricted to the last couple years as the league has become a bastion of high octane offense, so it consists of Kang and 11 Westward bound transitions. That is not the most robust of populations to draw a model from, but it was interesting that walk rate and home run rate were significantly projected while nothing else was. This gives us considerable certainty when entertaining how well Byung-ho Park will do, but it leaves us scratching our heads a bit with Kim because so much of his game depends on secondary power.
KANG projection for Hyun-soo Kim:
For 3.5 MM, that looks actually quite amazing. The Orioles would be getting three times their investment. However, keep in mind that a 1.5 WAR LF is a below average LF, which is about five times the value the club got out of its left fielders in about a 100 fewer at-bats. It is not the flashiest move, but it does improve the club if you think KANG is a useful projection tool. As I mentioned, KANG does very well with home runs and walks, but not much else. Strikeouts are ranging toward being significant. That is it. A player like Kim has made the most out of singles and doubles and that simply is not accounted for in the model. To poke and cause a little more doubt, KANG thinks Ah-seop Son is a monster and no one even bothered to place a bid on him.
From a scouting angle, it depends on who you talk to. I have talked to three front office folks and Kim ranged from AAA outfielder to passing left fielder. Those would be 35-45 grades. My acquaintances who follow Korean baseball think the world of Kim. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.