South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min will begin his first U.S. season in the minors.
The Baltimore Orioles said Wednesday, local time, that they have optioned Yoon to their Triple-A affiliate in Virginia, the Norfolk Tide, where the right-hander is expected to be a starter.
Yoon, 27, signed a three-year contract worth $5.575 million in February. He didn’t pitch his first preseason game until last week, after getting his work permit in a drawn-out process that forced him to travel to Canada for a few days. He also had a scheduled appearance rained out earlier this week.
In his latest appearance on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida, Yoon threw two innings and allowed a run on a solo shot by Jayson Nix. In his preseason, Yoon threw three innings and allowed two hits and an earned run for a 3.00 ERA.
Yoon Suk-min. (AP-Yonhap)
Yoon later said he wanted to maintain his current form and lamented his lack of opportunities with the big league club.
“My preparation was there. I feel like I was ready,” Yoon was quoted as saying in The Baltimore Sun. “I couldn’t get enough innings because of the visa.”
With the preseason wrapping up on March 29 and the regular season to open two days later, manager Buck Showalter said Yoon was running out of time to get innings under his belt and ready for big league action.
“He’s not going to start with us, but we think he has a chance to be with us at some point,” Showalter said. “I think he said it the other day and in talking to him, he needs to go down there and pitch innings. (His opportunities) are starting to go away.”
Yoon joined the Orioles after pitching the previous nine seasons for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization. He was voted the MVP in the South Korean league in 2011 after winning the pitching Triple Crown with 17 wins, 178 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA.
Yoon was sidelined at the start of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury and was limited to 87 2/3 innings. He went 3-6 with seven saves in 30 appearances, 11 of them starts, with a 4.00 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 28 walks.
The three-time KBO All-Star has a career record of 73-59 with 44 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 303 appearances. In 1,129 innings, he has struck out 949 batters and walked 345. He has been both a starter and a closer in his KBO career. (Yonhap)