Yes, the Detroit Tigers have Willi Castro as the probable everyday shortstop but a name to consider.Ha-seong Kim
A name I have been seeing coming up in the past few months because of the pandemic is Ha-Seong Kim. Now, thanks to Twitter follower @GhostMavGG, who posted a video of his play in Korea, I can understand why if I was the Detroit Tigers, he should be a player to be considered.
Who is Ha-seong Kim?
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN has Kim ranked 15th overall in the free-agent class. ($) The KBO (Koren Baseball Organization) will be posting Kim starting on November 10th per Jee-ho Yoo of Yonhap News, What that means is whoever wants to play in the MLB can make the jump. The period ends on December 14th.
Now, back to why Kiley has him listed so high. Per the article:
“Kim put up crazy numbers in the KBO (basically between Double-A and Triple-A for a domestic comparison) in his early 20s and can play a solid shortstop. Getting the rest of his 20s for a reasonable figure is a unique free-agent opportunity for rebuilding teams that normally spend only on relievers they can trade at the next deadline for prospects. For the numbers crowd, he’s a low-end starting shortstop due to the performance; and for the scouting crowd, he’s a little more like a nice-to-have utility piece who might not have an above-average carrying tool in the big leagues.”
His slash line for the Heroes is quite impressive .306/.397/.523 with a wRC+ of 141. He hit 30 home runs and posted a walk rate of 12.1% to just 10.9% K rate. His swing reminds you of a Shakespeare poem you heard back in that English literature class you took in high school but stays in your mind after all this time because it is so memorable. Check out the front foot action and how his head stays on the ball. The video also has some of his fielding.
As Dan Szmborski of FanGraphs points out, his ZIPS projections project well. The KBO in terms of the level of competition sits somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A so having the numbers he did let’s say in Erie, every single Detroit Tigers prospect fan would want him up now. The only question would be how his glove would fare in the MLB, where the game is much faster.
How much would it cost?
He will be 25 years old and as Kiley points out, he could get a five to six-year deal worth $20 million dollars. The 2021 free-agent class has a lot of shortstop studs in there with Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story but Kim could command less than next year’s crop.
The Detroit Tigers have never had a player from South Korea on their roster and Kim would be the first one. Detroit at this point during the rebuild, may not want to take a huge financial risk on an unproven MLB player. But Kim’s upside is definitely there including the fact he could play some second base, which is clutch since Detroit does need a second baseman at the moment.
Overall, this is a name Detroit Tigers fans should get to know because of his swing and overall game, even if he does not end up in a Tigers uniform.