Day three of the KBO is in the books! There was plenty of offense on display in Korea as each winning team scored at least seven runs. We also had a few strong performances from some former MLB bats along with KBO stalwarts and a nice look at some veteran pitchers.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Now let’s take a quick look at some of the day’s top performers, brought to you by Scott Chu and Adam Dubbin.
Jin-ho Jung (OF, Hanwa Eagles): 2-3, 2 R, SB, BB. Jung finally has a chance to start after spending seven years as a back-up in the loaded Doosan Bears outfield and the Eagles have to be happy about what they saw in this one. Jung has shown very little power in his career (12 career home runs in 857 Abs, and two of them were inside the park), but has plenty of speed to wreak havoc on the base paths. In fact, Jung is the only player in KBO history to complete a cycle before the fifth inning. He’s hoping to keep the starting job all season, and games like this should do the trick.
Jose Miguel Fernandez (DH, Doosan Bears): 4-5, 2B, 2 R. The former Cuban defector has been a late bloomer in his baseball development but has really shined in the KBO. He spent some time in 2017 and 2018 with the Dodgers and Angels and even logged 123 PA at the big league level before heading to Korea. His approach at the plate has made him very successful so far, as he rarely strikes out and even had more walks than strikeouts in 2019 for the Bears. He’s off to a really hot start in 2020 as he already has eight hits in three games. He has more gap power than home run power (his 34 doubles were fifth-most in 2019), but thanks to his impressive plate discipline he’s a force to be reckoned with for the Bears.
Dong-min Han (OF, SK Wyverns): 4-4, RBI, BB. That makes it back-to-back multi-hit games for Han, who got on base in all five of his trips to the plate. It certainly seems that 2019’s disappointing campaign is behind him as he looks to once again be a top hitter in the KBO.
Ah-seop Son (OF, Lotte Giants): 2-5, HR, 3 RBI. Son actually posted to come to the MLB in both 2015 and 2017, but received no offers in either attempt and remained with the Lotte Giants. He has an impressive blend of bat skills, power, and speed, as evidenced by his double-digit home runs and steals in eight of the last nine season and a career .322/.400/.471 line.
Mel Rojas Jr. (OF, KT Wiz): 3-4, R. The key slugger of the Wiz lineup came through for them in this one. He had the seventh-best batting average among qualified hitters in the KBO in 2019 and tied for second in RBI, so this is the kind of performance Wiz fans have come to expect from the former minor leaguer, who spent time with the Pirates and Braves between 2010 and 2017. He never cracked an MLB roster, but did have some solid showings at AAA with the Braves before jumping to the KBO.
Min-woo Park (2B, NC Dinos): 3-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. Park was the Dino’s top base stealer in 2019 and his impressive plate discipline and contact ability give him plenty of chances to swipe bags. He has at least 11 steals in every full season he’s played and even stole 96 in his first two years as a starter. He’s not quite so prolific in that category any more, but the 27-year-old is a fantastic lead-off man for the Dinos.
Eun-sung Chae (OF, LG Twins): 2-4, 2 R. After hitting just 16 home runs across his first four KBO seasons, he had a Yuli Gurriel-like power breakout in 2018 when he hit 36 doubles and 25 home runs. The power faded in a big way in 2019 and has yet to show up in 2020, but he’s a serviceable hitter.
Keon-chang Seo (2B, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-5, 2B, R, SB. The 5’8, 154 pound second baseman is predictably light in the power department, but has hit north of .320 in four of the last six seasons. He has the ability to steal plenty of bases and walks more than he strikes out, which ain’t too shabby for a professional baseballer no matter where you play.
Preston Tucker (OF, Kia Tigers): 3-5, HR, 4 RBI. He didn’t show enough in his 243 games in the MLB to stick around, but he was fantastic for the Tigers in this contest. His three-run shot in the eighth helped the Tigers secure the come-from-behind win.
Oh, and we can’t talk about KBO hitters without a little bat flip action, now can we? Behold a beauty from Young-hwan Baek, who tied it up for the Tigers in the 8th with a solo shot:
Come for the game tying HR.
Stay for the bat flip. pic.twitter.com/9AZiwzwFx0
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 7, 2020
Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos): 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 Ks. 23-year-old Koo got off to a strong start to his fifth professional season, leading the KBO on Day 3 with strikeouts with 8 in a winning effort against the Samsung Lions. He struck out the first two batters of the game but after a clean first inning, he walked Lee Won-seok to lead off the second. He also walked the next batter to create some trouble for himself but got out the jam with a pair of Ks to end the frame. He only allowed two hits, including a two-out double in the fifth with the bases empty, for the rest of his outing.
Last night's K leader was NC Dino Chang-mo Koo:
6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB and 8 Ks
The southpaw had his slider working as he was incredibly effective at getting Ks in the bottom of the zone. pic.twitter.com/MJXFENEzLH
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 7, 2020
Jang Shi-hwan (Hanwha Eagles): 6 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks. Veteran righty was hardly unhittable on Thursday — even a bit wild with two hit batters — though he managed to limit the damage from balls hit into play by walking only one while striking out six. His outing against SK Wyvern started rough, with six players coming to the plate in the first on three singles, though none managed to cross the plate. He faced five more batters in the next frame on a pair of singles, but again kept SK off the board. His luck finally ran out in the third when Choi Jeong scored on a double play. Jang would give up one more run in the fifth on a Han Dong-min double, before notching his only clean inning to end the day.
Park Jong-hoon (SK Wyverns): 5 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks. On the hill opposite of Jang today was 28-year-old Park, who had a similar stat line as his opponent. However, Park’s day started much smoother, with one-out singles being erased by double plays in the first two frames; he erased a single in the third with the help of a pair of strikeouts. He had a rough fourth inning but managed to escape unscathed, though things finally gave in his final inning when some small-ball play — a pair of singles, a pair of stolen bases and a fielder’s choice — resulted in his only runs allowed on the day.
Kim Jung-bin (SK Wyverns): 1 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 Ks. Wyverns reliever Kim Jung-bin gets the nod for our honorable mention today with a perfect four-batter appearance, striking out two. He was brought in to kill a sixth-inning rally in which the Eagles blew the game open scoring six runs, and did so, getting Kim Tae-kyun to pop out to second. After forcing the first batter to fly out in the seventh, he mowed down the next to two end his outing.
— Adam Dubbin
Tonight’s Key Matchup:
Moon Seung-won (SK Wyverns) vs. Noh Kyung-eun (Lotte Giants): 30-year-old Moon Seung-won faces off with 36-year-old Noh Kyung-eun in a battle of the veterans tonight. Moon’s arsenal features a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup with his velocity topping out around 92 mph. Noh, who skipped last season, is coming off a 9-6 season in 2018 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while striking out 89 in 132 1/3 innings.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)