Player Profile: Jeong Geunwoo

Jeong Geunwoo  #8

JeongGeunwoo

Position:  2nd Baseman
Birth: October 2nd, 1982
Height: 172 cm 
Weight: 75 kg
Nickname: Wyverns  Naelsandulee (best player?)

The heart and soul of the team, the engine that makes the lineup go, an adorable little guy. These are all things you could say about Jeong Geun Woo. Geunwoo truly is the catalyst for the SK lineup combining his solid approach at the plate, ability to spray line drives between outfielders, and his well-earned reputation as an elite base stealer.

Jeong was a highly ranked infield prospect after attending Korea University and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 KBO draft. In his sophomore season he won the Gold Glove at 2nd base and stole 45 bases. Since then, he has consistently been among the league leaders in hits, batting average and stolen bases, while earning a 2nd gold glove in 2009.

On the international stage Geunwoo has performed admirably at many international tournaments. Most notably he was instrumental in Korea capturing gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he hit a home run off Canadian pitcher Mike Johnson to propel Korea past the Canadians 1-0 to make a 16 year old Brett Lawrie really sad :(. He was even more remarkable in the 2010 Asian games in Guangzhou hitting .563 as Korea again took the gold. As mentioned in the Kim Kwang hyun profile, winning a gold medal in either of these competitions earns Korean players an exemption from their 2 years of military service… Assa!!

Geunwoo vs Brett Lawrie

Brett Lawrie questions his view on fitness and manliness.

Last year in the playoffs Jeong Keunwoo put the team on his back  (like Greg Jennings) hitting over .500 in the semi final round and doing all he could in the Korea Series in a losing effort.

When Geunwoo gets on base the fans do a chant that basically just says “RUN RUN RUN RUN!!! RUN! RUN!!!” Over and over. This may seem like it’s sacrificing the element of surprise in a stolen base attempt, but honestly every pitcher in the league knows that SK spark plug is probably going to attempt to steal the base… Except when they bunt him over to 2nd base… which happens much too often.

A joy to watch at the plate, in the field and on the bases Jeong Geunwoo looks forward to another season atop the SK order. HWIGHTING!

hwighting

http://www.koreabaseball.com/Record/HitterDetail1.aspx?pcode=75808

Player Profile: Jo-Jo Reyes

Joseph “Jo-Jo” Reyes # 37

Jojo pie

Position: Starting Pitcher (LHP)
Birth: November 20, 1984, West Covina, California, USA
Height: 6’2
Weight: 230 lbs
Nickname: Jo-jo? 

With the departure of Mario Santiago and Dave Bush a new pair of foreign born players join the SK roster this year. The more notable of the two is former major leaguer Jo-jo Reyes.

Reyes inexplicably pitched in the major league with 3 different teams, each with the misguided hope he could contribute as a 5th starter (the worst one).

He began his career with a ton of promise being selected out of Riverside Polytechnic High School in the 2nd round of the 2003 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves. Aside from a few injury plagued years in the minors Jo-jo worked his way up and was at one point considered to be the Braves best minor league pitcher.

Unfortunately for the Braves, and later the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, Jo-jo was awful at the MLB level. With a career record of 12-26 and a 6.05 ERA Jo-jo’s once bright future in baseball has dimmed considerably. He heads to Korea this year to make some money and avoid the mediocre pay and soul sucking bus rides of baseball’s minor leagues.

While unsuccessful at sticking around in the big leagues, Jo-jo did manage to get his name in the record books as a member of the Blue jays on May 25, 2011, when he lost to the New York Yankees. It was his 28th consecutive start without earning a win, tying the Major League record set by Cliff Curtis (1910–11) and Matt Keough (1978–79).

Blue Jays fans like myself will remember Reyes as the man who was given countless chances to succeed but consistently failed. He even failed to break the record by winning his next start throwing a complete game victory against the Choo Shin-soo led Cleveland Indians.

The silver lining for SK fans hoping for big things from Jo-jo is that despite his undisputed track record of complete failure, top baseball talent evaluators continued to see some sort of potential in the young left hander. Jo-jo would show flashes of brilliance… or at least competence during his longer than expected major league career. Just when you thought he was absolutely hopeless he would string together a few decent innings and make you think: “maybe this guy isn’t as terrible as everyone thinks he is…”

On the strength of that sentiment, Jo-jo joins SK this spring with a hope for a fresh start in Korea. Jo-jo is like a lot of people I see coming from America… the job market back home isn’t great for left-handed pitchers who don’t win baseball games or politics majors who don’t get law degrees… But here in Korea you don’t need to have the greatest career track record, you just have to not embarrass yourself when you get here and you’ll be surprisingly well compensated for it!

So here’s to hoping that Jo-jo doesn’t embarrass himself with SK because at 29 years old, this might finally be his last shot.

Bonus link!: Clint Hulsey of “I R Fast” did an interesting study correlating KBO pitchers’ average fastball velocity and how well they pitched. It’s probably a bit numbery for some and I find it a bit simplistic, but he put a decent amount of work into it and apparently Jo-jo ranks 13th among KBO pitchers with a 90.3 MPH average fastball. Cool.

Rankings: http://irfast.blogspot.kr/2012/12/kbo-war-and-velocity-again.html
Jo-jo:  http://irfast.blogspot.kr/2013/01/jo-jo-reyes-and-vicente-padilla-in.html

Player Profile: Kim Kwang-Hyun #29

Kim Kwang Hyun # 29

Position: Starting Pitcher (LHP) 
Birth:
July 22nd 1988, Korea
Age:
23
Height: 
187 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Nickname: I think SK calls him the Korean Ace as he was once the top pitcher of Korea’s national team

 

Kim Kwang-hyun is an enigmatic young left handed pitcher. With obvious potential to be the ace of the staff for both SK and the Korean national team, it’s more frustrating to follow his career than it should be. As a high school player, Kwang-hyun led his team to the first ever Korean national highschool baseball title by absolutely dominating all comers. Later that year, he beat the USA in the junior world baseball championships, where he also threw a no-hitter against Japan. Tip: if you want to be loved by Korean baseball fans, throwing a no-hitter against Japan is a good start. Anyway, Kim graduated to the Wyverns in 2007 as a 19 year old (!!) and baffled the Doosan Bears in the Korean Series to help secure the victory for SK that year. In 2008, as a 20 year old, Kwang-hyun dominated the KBO and won the MVP award with a 16-4 record, a 2.39 ERA, and 150 strikeouts in 162 innings pitched. He missed the pitching triple crown as You(n)-Suk-min took the ERA title by .06. At that years summer Olympics, he was equally impressive guiding the Korean team to a gold medal and earning an exemption from military service… nice-eu!

 Service to country:  same-same

Dominating the Olympics

2 years of military service.

As a 20 year old with a 96 mph fastball and an array of pitches that baseballreference.com already called “major league average” It was pretty clear Kim would continue to improve, become the best pitcher in Asia, move to MLB and dominate until his baseball hall of fame induction… but then, 2 of SK fans most bitter rivals tried to derail young Kim’s career. Okay, they didn’t try to, but its more interesting as a story.

At the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Ichiro and a bunch of other players, scored 8 runs off Kim in less than 2 innings on their way to a 14-2 pummeling of Korea. Kim struggled with command of his pitches as he struggled through the tournament. Then, in 2009 Doosan star, the dreamy and totally boo-able, Kim Hyun-soo (우우우우우우우) added injury to insult by breaking Kwang-hyun’s pitching hand with a batted ball. This forced the SK ace to miss the rest of the 2009 season.

Ichiro celebrates his victory.

Kim Kwang hyun Eating the MVP award.

In 2010 Kim Kwang Hyun looked like a man on a mission. He led SK to another Korean series title going a ridiculously awesome 17-7 with a 2.37 and 183 strikeouts to only 84 walks. He took a no-hitter into the 9th with 2 out in a game against the Samsung lions only to have it broken up. The hit sucked too… just a little weak ground ball through the right side of the infield *sigh*. Kwang-hyun, still only 23, finished as a runner-up in MVP voting (to the dirty-hand-breaker Kim Hyun-soo)
While basking in the glow of another Korean series title Kim was struck by a… stroke! It was a mild stroke, but still pretty scary for a 23 year old pro baseball player. After months of rehab Kim was able to return mid-way through the 2011 season, but as a shadow of his former self. A lack of control and slight dip in velocity led to a mediocre season. in 2012  another injury, this time to his shoulder, led to a shortened season and a mediocre 4.20 ERA albeit with a respectable 65 strikeouts in 82 innings…

Shoulder injuries are usually tricky to comeback from, so hopefully while his return was unspectacular he can still regain his past form in 2013.  Let’s hope we see more smiles from Kwang-hyun this year.

Kwanghyun happy

Player Profile: Choi-Jeong # 14

Choi-Jeong # 14


Position: 
Third Base
Born:  February 28th 1987, Korea.
Age: 25
Height:  
180cm
Weight: 84kg
Nickname: 소년장사 which means Strong Boy, also Spiderman!

 

Choi Jeong, aside from the fact he only has 2 syllables in his name, is probably the Wyvern’s most complete player. As a high school player Choi Jeong could play all 9 positions and was an excellent starting pitcher. However, upon promotion to the professional league with SK, the team elected to use him a position player so his mighty bat could be in the lineup every day. Being a former pitcher plus a great athlete makes him a dependable 3rd baseman with a strong arm for those long throws across the diamond.
Choi Jeong had a tough start to his KBO career but has rounded into form nicely, as he continues to mature. 2008 was a real breakthrough,  in which Choi hit .328 and won Korean Series MVP as the Wyverns put their annual beating on the Doosan Bears. In each of the last 3 years Choi has hit at least .300 with 20 homeruns, as well as winning the KBO gold glove award for outstanding defense at 3rd base.  Last year he finished 2nd with 26 homeruns. At only 26 years old, he is just entering the prime of his career and projects to be a superstar of Korean baseball… or bolt for Japan in free agency next year… shrug

Throwing error!.. Just kidding, he’s a gold glover.

Gold glove, gold bow tie… pimp.

Choi is encouraged at the plate by one of the more dangerous and feminine chants for an SK hitter. The chant involves enthusiastic jumping, while screaming his name to a delightfully catchy beat! Notably, the song has changed over the last 3 years to reflect Choi Jeong’s evolving game, ambitiously encouraging a home-lun when previously, it merely called for an anta (hit).

While among the top 10 in a number of KBO hitting categories, the statistic Choi Jeong dominates is being hit by a pitch. The “death ball” (Korean term) has plunked Choi 80 times in the last 4 years, which is impressive and manly.

Considering his age, awesomness, status as an everyday player, 2 syllable name AND notable chant Choi Jeong seems like a fantastic choice for you people looking for a favourite player, SK jersey buyers, or girls looking for a Korean boyfriend who isn’t prettier than them.

 ” Hello Ladies, I’ll be with you right after this level 😉 “