Jang Hyun-seok (19-Masan Yongmago), who was considered the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 KBO First-Year Player Draft, has officially declared his intentions to play Major League Baseball (ML) in the United States. While there is some controversy over whether or not he will participate in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), which he has already been selected for, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) says it doesn’t matter as they have selected the best player.
In a phone conversation with Star News on the 1st, a KBO official said, “In principle, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be selected for the Asian Games just because they are challenging for the major leagues. At the time of the discussion, the power enhancement committee said that we should pick the most outstanding player without thinking about anything else. That’s why we picked Jang Hyun-seok from the 19 players recommended by the Korea Baseball Softball Association.” “Even at the time of the selection, there was a possibility that the player would not apply for the KBO League Draft. But there was no talk of not selecting him (to the national team) because of that. We only thought about selecting the best player from the recommended players.”
Jang Hyun-seok’s management company, Ricoh Sports Agency, said on the same day, “After much consideration, Jang Hyun-seok has decided not to apply for the KBO Draft and to challenge himself in the major leagues.” Jang said, “I apologize for making many people wait while I was deciding where to live. It was very difficult for me to decide because both the KBO and the major leagues were my dreams, but I made up my mind to challenge the major leagues in the end because of my desire to challenge the world’s top stage.”
Standing at 190 centimeters tall and weighing 90 kilograms, Jang Hyun-seok is a right-handed fireballer who can hit up to 157 kilometers per hour. His changeup and fastball are excellent. He has a curveball with a big drop in the low 130 kilometers per hour, a changeup, and a 140-kilometer slider that hits the top of the strike zone. In recent years, he has also honed his sweeper, which he often uses in practice. According to several scouts and KBO club officials, Moon’s talent is even better than that of recent first- and second-round draft picks such as Moon Dong-ju (20), Kim Seo-hyun (19-over Hanwha Eagles), Yoon Young-chul (19-KIA Tigers), and Shim Jun-seok (19-Pittsburgh Pirates).
His overwhelming performance earned him a spot on the South Korean national team in 안전놀이터 June, the only amateur player and the first high school player to do so. He will be one of 24 athletes selected for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in September. At the time, KEPCO President Cho Gye-hyun said, “The Asian Games is an amateur competition. We have been checking Jang Hyun-seok since March this year, and he received the highest scores for his delivery, speed, and game management.”
Although the team is composed of athletes under the age of 25 or in their fourth year of professional competition, they are considered strong favorites to win the gold medal. The Asian Games gold medal also comes with an exemption from military service, so the team that drafted Jang Hyun-seok after the win could plan their development without worry. If Jang were to declare for the KBO draft, he would likely head to the Hanwha Eagles, who have the first pick. Hanwha already had Moon Dong-ju and Kim Seo-hyun, both of whom can throw 155 kilometers per hour, so it seemed like they could have a trio of homegrown fastballs in the KBO.
However, Jang Hyun-seok