High school pitcher goes first in KBO draft
A high-touted high school pitcher was selected with the first pick at the annual draft for the nation's top baseball league Monday.
The expansion NC Dinos selected right-hander Yoon Hyoung-bae as the first player in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) draft.
The Dinos, which were founded last year and will join the KBO next season, received the top two selections as part of the special expansion rules set last year.
Yoon, 18, pitches for Bugil High School in Cheonan, about 90 kilometers south of Seoul in South Chungcheong Province. He helped his school win two major titles in the past two seasons: first the President's Cup in 2011, the school's first in 14 years, and then the Golden Lion Cup this year, Bugil's first in a decade.
They are two of the four biggest national high school tournaments in Korea. Yoon was the winning pitcher in the 2011 final, and was named the most valuable player at the Golden Lion Cup in 2012. He earned three wins in four games and gave up just one earned run in 24 1/3 innings.
In his three-year high school career, Yoon threw 177 2/3 innings in 43 games, going 18-3 with 197 strikeouts and an earned run average (ERA) of 1.17.
Yoon will represent South Korea at this year's 18U Baseball World Championship by the International Baseball Federation, which will be held in Seoul from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8.
He said his goal is to earn the first victory for the expansion club next season.
"I want to join the first team right away next season," Yoon said. "I've joined a very good young club. I want to become a household name with this team."
Yoon's fastball clocks in at about 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour), and he can also throw a slider and a changeup. Yoon said he needs to work on controlling his off-speed pitches.
Lee Jeong-hoon, Yoon's manager at Bugil High School, said the young player has the right temperament to succeed in the pros.
"He can throw hard fastballs but will need to work on his command," he said. "But he throws a good changeup. And he has the calm personality to take on any situation and role and doesn't easily get rattled. I think he can be a great professional pitcher."
With their second priority pick, the Dinos selected right-handed pitcher Lee Seong-min of Yeungnam University in North Gyeongsang Province. He pitched 242 2/3 innings in 49 collegiate games with 17 wins and a 2.08 ERA.
After the Dinos' two selections, the existing eight KBO teams drafted in the reverse-record order, in which the team with the worst record in 2011 picked first and the league champion selected last in the first round.
The Nexen Heroes, last year's bottom-dweller, chose with their first pick right-handed pitcher Cho Sang-woo from Daejeon High School. Including the Dinos' first two selections, eight of the first 10 players picked in the draft were pitchers.
Overall, 95 players were selected in the 10-round draft. The Dinos had three more special picks after two rounds were completed. Of the 95, there were 39 pitchers, 27 infielders, 21 outfielders and eight catchers.
The KBO have used the reverse-order draft since 2009 and will return the previous form of the territorial draft next year.
Under the territorial setting, teams acquire high school or college players from their home city or satellite cities in the same province. The idea is to build strong local connections with the local fanbase.(Yonhap)