The Phillies don’t have much of a hallowed past when it comes to recruiting MLB level players from overseas. They have never had an Ichiro, Yu Darvish, Hideki Matsui, or Hideo Nomo.
The last player the Phillies had on their roster from the Far East was the Korean Baseball Organization standout Hyun Soo Kim. After coming to the Phillies from the Orioles in the Jeremy Hellickson deal, Kim posted a .608 OPS in limited action. At least he had a cool theme song.
In 2020, the Phillies had Didi Gregorius manning shortstop. In no uncertain terms, he did a Hell of a job. He was solid on the defensive side of the ball, but, more importantly, his bat was an important part of the Phillies lineup.
At the dish, Gregorius slashed .284/.339/.488. He played in all 60 games, hitting 10 homers. In a normal season, that would be a 27 home run pace.
Now, Didi has become a free agent. The Phillies didn’t even offer him a qualifying offer (mostly because of COVID). There are other options on the market, but if the Phillies are feeling risky there’s one player who’s not being talked about as much.
During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the first major baseball league to make a comeback was the Korean Baseball Organization. One of the bright young stars of the league is 25-year-old shortstop Ha-Seong Kim. Before I tell you what he’s done, how about you see for yourself.
Ha-Seong Kim has played 7 years in the KBO (the exact amount of years needed to be posted). In that time, he has accumulated 940 hits, 191 doubles, 133 homers, 575 RBI, 134 SB, and 606 runs scored. For his career, he’s slashed .294/.373/.494.
He had a monster 2020 in his age-24 season. He set career highs in home runs (30), walks (75), batting average (.308), on-base percentage (.399), and slugging percentage (.526).
At age 25, Kim is basically a high-level prospect that the Phillies will only have to pay money for. He’ll cost less than Didi Gregorius, but he’ll also bring more question marks. The Phillies have several holes to fill, so they’ll probably not want to spend a ton on a shortstop. Kim gives the Phillies some room financially while also possibly ending up being the best SS on the market.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire