Korean players who are active in the MLB (US Professional Baseball) and are in the opposite position. One has gone beyond the team’s starting lineup and even been nominated for the Gold Glove (Best Defender), while the other has not even been given a training opportunity, let alone entered the big leagues. This is the story of Ha-seong Kim (28, San Diego Padres) and Hyo-jun Park (27, Atlanta Braves), who led Yatap High School to second place in the 2013 Blue Dragon High School Baseball Championship. 스포츠토토
Ha-seong Kim, who was among the final three candidates for the National League shortstop Gold Glove last year, is preparing well for the 2023 season (opening on March 31). After participating in the Padres’ spring camp, he joins the WBC (World Baseball Classic) national team. On the other hand, Park Hyo-joon went through the ordeal of waiting to be released three times after the end of last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will start the upcoming season in the minor leagues as no more teams are looking to sign him. To make matters worse, he was not even listed on the Braves’ spring training roster, which includes 40 big league rosters and 26 invited players.
The two players were responsible for the infield defense together during their days at Yatap High School. Although Kim Ha-seong was one year older, they were close enough to gather in one room after the game to review the day’s play and enjoy a snack party together. The Keystone combination of Ha-seong Kim and Hyo-jun Park was evaluated as the strongest in high school, and thanks to the two’s performance, Yatap High took second place in the 2013 Blue Dragon. Yatap High School won the Bonghwanggi in 2017 after the two graduated, but at that time, runner-up was Yatap High School’s best performance in major competitions.
It was a fantasy mate, but it was Park Hyo-joon who stood out more during high school. When Park Hyo-jun entered the school in 2012, Kim Ha-seong, who was the starting shortstop, gave up his position to a junior and moved to second base. Kim Ha-seong was also a high-level shortstop, but Park Hyo-joon was so different that he was called a ‘genius shortstop’. At the time, Yatap High School coach Kim Seong-yong (current SSG general manager) said, “Park Hyo-joon has all the qualities necessary for a shortstop. It is difficult for a shortstop like this to come out again in Korea.”
His grades were also good for Park Hyo-joon. Park Hyo-joon had a batting average of 0.355 in 69 games during his three years of high school, and Kim Ha-seong had a batting average of 0.268 in 67 games. His progression to the pros was also different. While Kim Ha-seong did not receive much attention in the 2014 KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) rookie draft and wore a Nexen uniform with a total of 29 in the 2nd and 3rd round, Park Hyo-joon signed a contract with the MLB New York Yankees in July 2014 before graduating from high school with a contract fee of $ 1.16 million (approximately 1.4 billion won). His initiation ceremony was also held in a luxurious hotel in Seoul.
The fates of the two began to diverge little by little from the time they entered the professional world. While Kim Ha-seong played an active part in the first team from the first year of joining and became a starting player from the second year, Park Hyo-jun could not easily cross the wall of the big leagues. When Park Hyo-jun entered the United States, he said, “I will enter the big leagues within 3-4 years,” but he was able to get out of the minor leagues for the first time only in 2021, the 7th year.
In the meantime, Kim Ha-seong grew into the best player in the KBO, entered the MLB with a transfer fee of 5.525 million dollars (approximately 6.757 billion won), and stood tall as the league’s top player in two years. Coincidentally, Park Hyo-joon, who stepped on the big leagues in the year Kim Ha-seong debuted on the American stage, did not leave much of a presence. In May of last year, Ha-seong Kim scored a hit in the match between Ha-seong Kim’s Padres and Hyo-jun Park’s Pirates, while Hyo-joon Park took the lead in an extended match and lost a chance to win with an unfortunate base play. showed as
Park Hyo-joon’s future is uncertain. The possibility of advancing to the leagues of other countries, such as Japan, is predicted, but it is not easy. It is unclear whether there will be a team that wants to recruit him, who has not left a clear mark in the United States and has not been able to solve the military service problem. His return to the country is also unlikely. Since he gave up the KBO rookie draft and went straight to the United States, he has to go through a two-year grace period to play in the country. Kim Ha-seong solved the military service problem by winning a gold medal at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.