Probably the most well-known season within the historical past of the Korea Baseball Group begins on Sunday with the Korean Collection totally charged. With the KBO playoffs kicking off, most of the league’s largest stars can be within the highlight – a few of whom could also be taking part in in main leagues as early as subsequent season.
The KBO playoffs are considerably completely different from the MLB format. The highest 5 groups within the general standings qualify, however the top-placed NC Dinos robotically say goodbye to the highest seven Korean sequence – the KBO model of the World Collection – and the remaining is a ladder bracket to determine who will face them. The second by fifth seeds: the KT Wiz, Doosan Bears, LG Twins, and Kiwoom Heroes.
Listed below are 5 gamers who will be seen within the KBO playoffs (beginning at 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPNews and the ESPN app) who could also be setting their MLB model sooner reasonably than later.
Ha Seong Kim, layover, Kiwoom Heroes
Kim is in his sixth full season as a starter with the Heroes, the identical group that spawned former main leaguers Jung Ho Kang and Byung Ho Park, and appears destined to benefit from post-season alternatives in MLB. Scouts consider Kim can play shortstop daily, however can even get to second or third base, and he’s anticipated to be within the prime half of ESPN insider Kiley McDaniel’s upcoming free-agent rankings.
In 137 video games that season, Kim hit a profession excessive of 30 homers with 109 RBIs whereas hitting .308 / .399 / .526 with 24 doubles and 23 stolen bases.
“I’d say he is one of the best participant in KBO proper now,” stated KBO reporter Daniel Kim. “He is solely 25 years previous, however he is acquired loads of expertise. So he’ll be prepared for the postseason. However he hasn’t had a second in KBO to behave like Mookie Betts within the World Collection.”
Kim has beforehand expressed curiosity in making the leap to the massive leagues, regardless of discovering on the time that some KBO followers had been questioning his capability to thrive there.
“”[Byung Ho Park] informed me that not many gamers can truly do this, “Kim informed Korean JoongAng Day by day final December.” He inspired me by telling me to strive if I get this opportunity and that helped me achieve confidence. Even when it isn’t a simple path, I’m the one who goes this path so I’ll care much less about it [the negative comments] and go my very own method. “
Sung Bum Na, outfielder, NC Dinos
The 31-year-old Na is without doubt one of the most full gamers within the KBO. He has crushed .318 / .385 / .543 in his eight seasons and with 32 homers and 108 .330 / .397 / .604 RBIs in 124 video games this season. The left-handed Na has lengthy been the topic of hypothesis about leaping to the greats.
“The gamers who’ve performed with and in opposition to him and who’ve main league expertise really feel that he might maintain a spot within the main league,” stated Daniel Kim. “He is had some Achilles tendon points late within the season however the NC Dinos can be taking a giant break right here as a result of as [the] first place [team]you acquired an computerized bid for the Korean Collection. “
Raul Alcantara, pitcher, Doosan Bears
The 27-year-old Alcantara gained expertise with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and 2017, incomes an ERA of seven.19 in 46 1/three innings in 13 video games and 9 begins. Nevertheless, the right-handed has spent the final two seasons within the KBO, pitching for the Wiz in 2019 and the Bears in 2020.
After posting an ERA of 4.01 in 27 begins in its first KBO season, Alcantara took issues to a different stage in 2020 with an ERA of two.78 and a whip of 1.056 in 29 begins. The signings of former KBO pitcher Josh Lindblom of the Milwaukee Brewers and Merrill Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks might have paved the best way for Alcantara to show his KBO success into a spot on an MLB roster.
“I do know the groups are him proper now,” stated Daniel Kim. “He is a reputation on the market this low season [to follow Lindblom and Kelly]. “
Baek Ho Kang, outfielder, KT Wiz
The 21-year-old left subject participant is without doubt one of the brightest younger stars within the KBO. Born in Seoul, he received the KBO’s Rookie of the Yr award in 2018 and set a rookie file for Homer at 29. In 2020 he mashed up when he hit 32 doubles in 124 video games with 22 house runs, 82 RBIs and .324 / .407 / .533.
Mel Rojas Jr., outfielder, KT Wiz
30 yr previous Rojas – his father was with the majors for 10 years – by no means reached The Present after being drafted within the third spherical by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010. As a substitute, he spent the final 4 seasons of his profession on the Wiz, changing into one of many KBO’s prime thugs. In 2020, the outfielder virtually received the Triple Crown and with 0.349 – good for third place within the KBO – led the league with 47 house runs and 135 RBIs.
After the playoffs, Rojas will doubtless must determine whether or not to carry a job within the MLB or settle for a elevate from the Wiz.
“I am listening to some blended opinions and lukewarm curiosity regardless of his gaudy numbers. He is prone to obtain an enormous elevate from KT Wiz that’s near $ 2 million assure,” stated Daniel Kim. “I do not see any main league group guaranteeing that. [But] he needs to go to the majors – he has by no means performed within the prime division. “