Why were the Los Angeles Dodgers sincere about recruiting Jang Hyeon-seok (Masan Yongma High School)? What attracted you to dispatching scouts to Korea three years ago?
Los Angeles Dodgers Pacific scouting director John Dibble attended Jang Hyun-seok’s signing ceremony held at the Seoul Dragon City Hotel on the 14th and revealed the reason for signing Jang with a down payment of 900,000 dollars (approximately 1.1 billion won).
ang Hyun-suk signed a contract with the LA Dodgers, a prestigious major league team, with a down payment of 900,000 dollars. Jang Hyun-seok, a high school level pitcher, was likely to be the first overall pick in the upcoming 2023 KBO draft, but gave up participating in the draft and chose to go to the United States. The Dodgers secured an international bonus pool by sending two pitchers to the Chicago White Sox before the trade deadline to embrace such Jang Hyun-seok. The bonus pool refers to the maximum amount of international player contracts allocated to each club.
Jang Hyun-seok, who is 190cm-90kg in physical condition, conquered the high school stage with 3 wins, 0.93 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 9 games this year. As a result, he was the only amateur player to board the national team for the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games, and at the last Blue Dragon High School Baseball Championship, he received the attention of scouts from eight major league clubs, including the Dodgers. Jang Hyun-seok is highly regarded for his four-seam fastball, which can reach up to 157 km, as well as his command of curveballs, sliders, and changeups.
The Dodgers dispatched a scout three years ago to recruit Jang Hyun-seok to watch the player. I recognized Jang Hyun-seok’s talent from his days in Gyeongju Middle School. Dibble’s director said, “We sent scouts to watch Hyun-seok Jang since he was in middle school. Seven scouts constantly checked Jang Hyun-seok, and all seven recognized Jang Hyun-seok’s talent, so the recruitment process proceeded. It feels good to have Jang Hyun-seok with us.”
Jang Hyun-seok’s greatest strength was his unique fighting spirit. Unlike other players in his national tournament, Jang Hyun-seok roared every time he finished an inning and became a hot topic. Director Dibble said, “Of course, I was impressed with his speed, physique, and ability to use breaking balls, but more than that, his desire to win, his competitive spirit, his fighting spirit, and his appearance on the mound stood out. It was a look that can be seen in players active in the major leagues.”
Regarding the type of pitch and performance, he gave the best praise that can be given to an amateur player. Seeing Jang Hyun-seok’s curve, he thought of a major league legend. Dibble’s director said, “Josh Beckett’s curve, which I saw as a minor league coach, is similar to Jang Hyun-seok’s curve.” They asked me to make a contract with them. In the past, Park Chan-ho and Kim Byung-hyun caught 20 each at the amateur level. But this time, when I saw Jang Hyun-seok recording 14 strikeouts, I remembered that conversation.”
Beckett is a legendary pitcher who made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins (currently Miami) in 2001 and won 138 wins (106 losses) in 14 seasons until his retirement from the Dodgers in 2014. He won 20 games, was named an All-Star in 2007, 2009 and 2011, won championship rings with Florida in 2003 and Boston Red Sox in 2007, and was honored with the 2003 World Series MVP honors. At that time, he was reborn as a man who won a shutout in 9 innings in Game 6 of the World Series.
In addition, Jang Hyeon-seok made a relief mound in the quarterfinal match against Jangchung High School held at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul on the 24th of last month, and in front of multiple major league scouts, he pitched 6⅔ innings, 3 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts, and 102 pitches without loss.
The Dodgers’ international scout in charge of Korea highly appreciated Chang’s willingness to learn. Scout Dean Kim said, “Jang Hyun-seok’s curiosity was highly appreciated. He seemed eager to learn. He seemed curious about pitching and data, and I thought that would be a good synergy with the club in the minor leagues.”
“Before scouting, I started working as an interpreter for Choi Hyun-il. He felt and experienced life in the minor leagues with his own skin, but the difference from Korea is that he uses his practice time very efficiently. In other words, I spend a lot of time personally, and it is important to use that time efficiently. I will try to help,” he added.
Jang Hyun-seok, who officially became a Dodgers man, said, “I didn’t know I was going to go to the Dodgers, but it’s an honor to wear a uniform. He was roughly aware of his interest in me, but he had no idea it would be a contract like this. It is a club that has watched me for a long time,” he said. “I want to become a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been with the Dodgers for a long time and he has been the first starter. I also have the desire to become a starting pitcher,” he promised success in the major leagues.