Two premier South Korean pitchers have signed with a famed U.S. baseball agent, eying opportunities to play in Major League Baseball.
Yoon Seok-min, a right-handed starter for the Kia Tigers in Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), and Ryu Hyun-jin, a left-hander for the Hanwha Eagles, have joined with agent Scott Boras.
A founder and owner of Boras Corp., Boras represents a slew of major league All-Stars, including Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder and Matt Holliday. South Korean Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians is also represented by Boras.
Yoon, 25, said Monday he wanted to prepare early for a possible career in the majors.
"I felt that in order to realize my dream of pitching the majors, I couldn't just get by with enthusiasm and that I needed to do something systematically," the pitcher said. "I signed with Boras during this past season. I am getting some relevant information from him and it's been very helpful to figure out where I stand in the big leagues."
Yoon and Ryu have been among KBO's best starting pitchers in recent seasons and were integral parts of South Korea's national team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished second at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Yoon had the best season of his career in 2011, leading the KBO with 17 wins, 2.45 earned run average (ERA) and 178 strikeouts for a pitching triple crown. Ryu, 24, won the league's most valuable player (MVP) and rookie of the year awards in 2006 and won the triple crown that season. He holds the KBO record for the most strikeouts in a season by a rookie pitcher with 204. Ryu has led the KBO in four of his first six seasons.
Under the KBO rule, a player becomes eligible to be posted for overseas leagues after seven seasons in Korea, with interested clubs submitting their bids during a silent auction. The player's original team will receive the bid money as a sort of transfer fee.
A KBO player can declare free agency after nine years, at which point players are free to test the market.
Yoon just completed his seventh KBO season and is thus eligible for posting. Ryu is one season behind Yoon.
The Eagles' stance on Ryu's signing with Boras wasn't immediately known. The Tigers, however, said they will not allow Yoon to leave this offseason. Team manager Sun Dong-yol said the Tigers need Yoon to win championships.
"He will be a free agent after two years," Sun said. "It will be okay for him to prepare as much as he can and then go overseas."
Yoon acknowledged he hasn't yet discussed his future with the club and said he would not specifically talk about his goals before sitting down with team officials.
Boras is known for winning lucrative contracts for his clients.
South Korean pitcher Park Chan-ho got a five-year, $65 million free agent deal from the Texas Rangers in 2002 with Boras by his side. (Yonhap News)
윤석민 '보라스 사단' 전격 합류
추신수와 한솥밥..메이저리그 진출 도전
프로야구 KIA 타이거즈의 에이스 윤석민(25)이 '꿈의 무대'인 미국프로야구 진출을 염두에 두고 메이저리그의 거물 에이전트인 스콧 보라스와 손을 잡았다.