|Teenage shortstop Park Hyo-joon and his parents (Yonhap)|
South Korean teenage shortstop Park Hyo-joon has signed with the New York Yankees.
Park Dong-hoon, father of the 18-year-old player, said on Thursday the shortstop signed for $1.16 million and the Major League Baseball club also agreed to provide an interpreter and a trainer.
The infielder with Yatap High School in Seongnam, just east of Seoul, becomes the second South Korean to join the Yankees organization after the retired pitcher Park Chan-ho, who wore the pinstripes in 2010. The senior Park said the Yankees showed interest in the player when Yatap’s baseball team had offseason training in Los Angeles in January.
Though the shortstop was eligible to be drafted by Korea Baseball Organization teams this year, he chose to go overseas to begin his professional career.
Listed at 184 centimeters and 76 kilograms, Park batted .359 in 59 games in three high school years, along with 34 steals and 52 runs scored. He hit five homers and drove in 49 runs. Considered an all-around player with solid hitting and fielding skills, Park also posted a .500 on-base percentage and a .586 slugging percentage.
Baseball America, a U.S. publication covering up-and-coming players, recently rated Park as the 18th-best international prospect.
The Yankees are scheduled to hold a signing ceremony for Park in South Korea.
“A lot of baseball players want to play for the Yankees, and I think it’s a great honor for me to sign with such a club,” said Park, who added he grew up watching Derek Jeter, a future Hall of Famer in his 20th and final season with the Yankees.
“I think scouts liked my defense and base running,” Park said. “I have my ups and downs at the plate and I have to work on that. But defense is the first and the foremost thing for a shortstop, and I am confident in that aspect of my game.” (Yonhap)