If Jang Hyun-seok goes to the major leagues instead of Hanwha… what happens to his AG spot?

The KBO announced the final 24-man roster for the baseball team that will compete at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in September. With 23 players currently playing for professional clubs, the Korea Baseball Softball Organization’s amateur quota spot went to top high school pitcher Jang Hyun-seok (19, Masan Yongmago).메이저사이트

The Korea Baseball Softball Association recommended 18 players with the most outstanding amateur skills, and the KBO’s Power Enhancement Committee selected Jang Hyun-seok. The baseball world agrees that there is no disagreement on his skills. Although he is still a high school player, it is widely believed that he will be able to show his competitiveness even if he comes to the pros immediately. It’s an exceptional talent, and one that is hard to match in the amateur ranks.

Jang Hyun-seok, who has been a nationally recognized pitcher since his freshman year, is a big-bodied right-hander. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a curveball to match. He hasn’t had the same issues with his fastball that fireballers often have. The upside is mouth-watering. Major League Baseball teams are reportedly keeping a close eye on Jang. Some teams have already been watching him for a long time.

Cho Gye-hyun, chairman of the Korean National Power Enhancement Committee, said, “I’ve been checking on him since March, but the Asian Games is an amateur competition. There is a dimension of giving dreams and hopes to young athletes for amateur development. He received the most points from the committee in terms of pitching, speed and game management.” Ryu Joong-il, the national team manager, hoped that Jang could be utilized in various ways, such as starting or 1+1.

The KBO also actively checked Jang’s physical condition. He is scheduled to play in the Cheongnyong Gogyo Baseball Championship in July, so it was determined that he will not have any problems in time for the Asian Games. Now the focus is on Jang’s future. While it’s clear that he’s playing for national honor and for the sport of baseball, the Asian Games have become the only tournament where military service benefits are available, so the outcome of the games could have a big impact on his value.

While there have been amateur quotas at the Asian Games, they’ve all been college students, and no high school students have ever applied for the draft with military service benefits. If a gold medal winner receives military service benefits, it adds a huge medal to this already good potential. They don’t have to take a year and a half to two years off to serve in the military like other athletes. It makes it much easier for teams to plan for their long-term strength.

Masan Yongmago pitcher Jang Hyun-seok. ⓒMokdong, Choi Min-woo

Masan Yongmago’s Jang Hyun-seok, rated as a top high school prospect ⓒJae-gook Lee

“Hundreds of millions of won could go back and forth,” said a club official, intrigued. Hanwha, which holds the No. 1 pick, is now certain to choose between Jang and left-hander Hwang Jun-seo (Jang Chung-go), and is actually watching both players closely. “Hwang Jun-seo is a good option, but unless something happens to Jang Hyun-seok, it will be hard to pass on him,” multiple sources said. Hanwha doesn’t deny that Jang is the most likely No. 1 pick at this point.

But there is one potential problem. That is if Jang doesn’t declare for the 2024 draft, which is scheduled for September. Jang has already received interest from major league teams. He’s reportedly still undecided whether he wants to try out for the majors or just declare for the KBO draft. A lot can change in the next two months or so.

For now, the general consensus is that Jang’s value is better than Jang Jae-young (Kiwoom), who was previously rumored to try for the major leagues, or Shim Jun-seok (Pittsburgh), who actually chose to try for the major leagues. Jang’s camp is already preparing for the future by hiring a major Korean agency. This is an experienced agency that has helped many players go overseas.

Since he was selected as an amateur baseball quarterback, he won’t have any problems competing in the KBO draft. It’s clear that receiving military benefits will increase the amount of money he can get from major league teams. The problem is that public opinion is not expected to be kind.

It’s a reward, but it’s also an encouragement to contribute more to Korean baseball. In fact, almost all of the players who received military service benefits at the Asian Games responded to the national team call-up without hesitation and made many contributions to the national team.

Shim Jun-seok, who chose not to participate in last year’s draft and instead pursued a major league career ⓒKyun Hye-mi Reporter

The KBO’s stance is that it cannot disqualify a player for participating in the draft ⓒKyung Hye-mi Kim

However, by going to the major leagues, players become irrelevant to the KBO, and realistically, it becomes difficult for them to participate in international tournaments other than the World Baseball Classic (WBC). The view that “the benefits shouldn’t necessarily be repaid in the KBO” is certainly valid, but other public opinion is likely to be sensitive to this aspect. The military has always been one of the most volatile issues in South Korea.

When the Korea Baseball Softball Association recommended the 18 players, it was reported that they cautiously conveyed to the KBO that Jang Hyun-seok could go overseas and that there could be controversy if he was not drafted. However, the KBO chose Jang Hyun-seok because he was the best player on the field at the time, despite the potential for controversy. There was no agreement with the player’s side in this process, and the KBO reportedly did not have a very complex discussion about the issue.

“Even if Jang Hyun-seok doesn’t apply for the draft, we can’t change the roster,” said a KBO official. This is because injuries and declining performance do not count as a reason for a roster change. That said, it would be odd for Jang Hyun-seok to voluntarily surrender his roster spot if he chooses to enter the major leagues. Perhaps the national team selection will force him to think more deeply.