Dodgers sign top South Korean prospect, RHP Hyun-Seok Jang

On Tuesday, August 8th, KBO insider Daniel Kim wrapped up a four-day whirlwind when he broke the news that Hyun-seok Jang, the consensus #1 overall pick in the KBO draft, would be signing with the Dodgers for $900k.

Absent a report on the signing details for Accimias Morales, who has yet to pitch this season, Jang’s $900K is the largest reported signing bonus that the Dodgers have invested in an international amateur free agent pitcher since Yadier Alvarez back in 2015, and is also more than any pitcher draftee received in either ’22 or ’23.

If this front office is expressing that much confidence, I think it’s fair to be excited. I know I am.


So what are they getting in Jang?

Well, on the surface, this looks like money and effort well-spent, as Jang is a fiery competitor with the stuff to match. Standing 6’3, and weighing in at 198 lbs, the 19-year-old RHP is more physically advanced than the typical high school senior/college freshman hurler:

Lots of ugly swings.

For someone his age, the secondaries definitely stand out, but every fastball there is 95+, which, y’know … acceptable. The velo shown here is a relatively recent development, as Jang trained at a South Korean analogue of Driveline Baseball, called G.O.A.T. Pitching, where his velo progression was blessedly documented:

From 145 kph as a 17-year-old up to 158 at 19 in just two short years. In freedom units, that’s going from topping out at 90 mph all the way up to 98. Yeehaw!


So how did the Dodgers land a prospect who would have been selected somewhere in the top two rounds of this past July’s draft, were he eligible? And, how was he signed by a club who had spent just about all of their tied for 29th-ranked $4.144M IFA bonus pool?

Well, I don’t want it to seem like I’m pulling a muscle patting myself on the back, because I didn’t see this exact thing coming, but there were trade winds to follow here. I wrote a post around the deadline discussing the reduced space on the Domestic Reserve List next year, which I speculated might lead to an increased willingness to trade prospects off it, especially in concert with 40-man roster/Rule 5 Draft concerns. This was followed up by another post less than a week ago where I speculated that the Dodgers dealt a couple of prospects off said domestic reserve list for international pool money to sign the very player above. Should’ve bought a lotto ticket instead, could’ve owned the Pirates. Yar.


In both of those posts, I was aware that the aforementioned winds had shifted, but I got hung up on the buffeting of the wind in the moment, where I should’ve sought the inexorable tides all the way back in March. The sea change.

With the benefit of hindsight, I know now that the best thing a club could have done was to endeavor to condense talent. The mechanics extend beyond the scope of this post. But, the point is, the Dodgers could not have pulled this off without infrastructure laid years prior that enabled them to adapt to something like this, at warp speed. They knew their guy, they pushed their chips in, and they dropped an IFA LFG in August.

If you believe in the sauce, this, right here, is where it’s brewed.

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