His dream of playing in Major League Baseball on hold for now, South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min will soon return home after wrapping up his minor league season in the Baltimore Orioles organization, his agency said Monday.
The Orioles designated Yoon for assignment last Sunday to make room for other players in their 40-man roster. Yoon cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk. Such a move is designed to clear space for players not on the 40-man roster, and a player already in the minors, such as Yoon, can be outrighted to the big league club's minor league affiliates.
An official with Boras Corporation, Yoon's agency, said the pitcher, unable to join the big league roster this season, will board a South Korea-bound flight on Tuesday local time. He insisted Yoon, who'd spent his first nine pro seasons in South Korea before signing with Baltimore this year, hasn't given up on his big league dreams.
"Rejoining the South Korean league is not an option," the official said. "Yoon Suk-min will pitch for the Orioles' organization next season."
The 28-year-old right-hander pitched his final game of the season for the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles, on Sunday local time. He allowed five earned runs in five innings but still picked up his fourth win of the season, as the Tides beat the Durham Bulls 9-6. Yoon ended his season with a 4-8 record and a 5.74 ERA in 23 appearances, 18 of them starts.
Yoon had spent his entire nine-year professional career with the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization and inked a three-year deal with the Orioles in February this year.
Yoon was voted the MVP in the KBO in 2011, on the strength of the pitching Triple Crown with 17 wins, 178 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA. The three-time KBO All-Star has a career record of 73-59 with
44 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 303 appearances. He has been both a starter and a reliever in his KBO career.
Because he signed the deal close to the start of spring training and he had to apply for a work permit, Yoon lagged behind other pitchers in his offseason preparation. He began the season in the minors and never got called up by the big league club this season.
The official with the agency said Yoon remains under Baltimore's contract.
"Being designated for assignment has different meanings to different players," the official added. "In case of Yoon, it was the Orioles' way of saying, 'We're not going to call you up this season.' It doesn't mean he's been released by the organization." (Yonhap)