“It can be an interesting bullpen pitcher.” ML identity check “surprise request.” How did Ham Deok-ju and the U.S. media evaluate it

KBO announced on the 30th of last month, “We received a request for an identification check on LG Twins Ham Deok-ju from the Major League Secretariat and today (30th) notified him that the player can sign a contract with all clubs including overseas clubs as an FA.” Everyone was surprised by the news because few people thought Major League clubs would show interest in Ham Deok-ju.

Ham Deok-ju is a veteran left-handed bullpen pitcher who has spent his 11th professional season this year. In 397 games (501 ⅔ innings), he had 35 wins, 21 losses, 49 holds, 59 saves, and an ERA of 3.50. He transferred from Doosan to LG in March 2021, but struggled due to injury in the first year of his transfer, recording only one win, two losses and an ERA of 4.29 holds in 16 games (21 innings).

Ham Deok-ju, who pitched in only 13 games last year due to injury, made a splendid comeback this year with four wins, 16 holds, four saves, and an ERA of 1.62 in 57 games (55 ⅔ innings). In the Korean Series, he led LG to its first win in 29 years by posting one win and an ERA of 2.70 in four games (three ⅓ innings).

After the end of the season, Ham Deok-ju became a Class B FA. LG plans to send the Stove League to catch Ham Deok-ju, Lim Chan-kyu and Kim Min-sung all within the team.

In this situation, a variable arose when Major League Baseball’s request for identification was received for Ham Deok-ju. Of course, Major League Baseball’s request for identification does not necessarily lead to an attempt to recruit. Major League Baseball teams are scouting a wide variety of players, and it is possible that one of them who watched Ham Deok-ju requested Ham Deok-ju’s identification check to confirm.

However, it can be a proof that the Major League was not completely indifferent to Ham Deok-ju. The U.S. baseball statistics site FanGraph provides scouting reports for players who may come to the Major League among foreign players such as Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Among the players whose scouting reports FanGraph provides are Ham Deok-ju.

“Ham Deok-ju can be seen as César Valdez (5 wins, 6 losses, 11 saves, and 6.11 ERA) in the form of a left-handed pitcher. He throws a dance changeup as a bullpen pitcher in the KBO League, deceiving batters with his unique pitching form. His arm movement is more like a cricket bowler than a pitcher. After his hands stop, his wrist bends to his forearm, and his elbow is not connected, either. And when the strike starts a little later, his left arm rotates like a large cinnamon roll before throwing the ball,” explained Ham’s unique pitching form.

“The change-up in the 70mph range from this funky pitching form bends in all directions,” FanGraph explained, “Ham Deok-ju’s change-up is really hard to predict and confuses batters. Ham Deok-ju’s fastball speed is only 86-89 miles (138-143 kilometers), but he feels faster because of his pitching form and is fully capable of making use of it. He can get ahead of the ball count fight with batters with slow curveballs and relieves a little of the burden of catching the count with his fastball.”

As a result, FanGraph predicted, “Ham Deok-ju can be a fun Major League bullpen pitcher who takes the mound in unimportant situations.”

Given Ham’s assessment, chances are slim that the Major League will actually try to recruit Ham. Cha Myung-seok, general manager of LG, also said in an interview on April 30. “I was surprised. I had no idea what the intention was to ask for identification,” Cha said. “However, nothing will change. We will see what happens only after more negotiations,” stressing that he will make all-out efforts to renew his contract with Ham.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *