Cubs sign young shortstop to dealShortstop prospect Son Ho-young, 20, has signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball, according to Sung Min-kyu, a scout for the team.
“We have signed a deal with Son,” Sung told Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, yesterday.
Son is not well known in Korea. He graduated from Chunghun High School in Anyang, Gyeonggi, in 2013.
Scouts say he has decent fielding ability with a strong arm, but no teams in the Korea Baseball Organization picked him in the league’s amateur draft in August 2012. Son enrolled in Hongik University but left school within a year.
“He had some talent, but he wasn’t a serious baseball player,” said Hongik University baseball coach Jang Chae-geun.
“We are aware of those issues,” said Sung. “He left teams several times when he was in high school. I think that history would cause KBO teams not to pick him in a draft because players of such character generally don’t adapt to professional baseball.”
However, Sung said there is a chance for the shortstop to be a decent baseball player in the United States. “People may think he is a bit arrogant judging by his behavior, but he’s not a child anymore,” he said. “He told me that his determination to become a true baseball player got stronger than ever while he worked at construction sites for the past last eight months before he met me. I have been watching him for a long time and I judged that his fielding ability, which is one of the most important abilities for a shortstop, is good enough to challenge for a spot in the big leagues.”
Sung refused to divulge details of the contract, adding that Son is currently training to develop his body in preparation for joining a rookie league that begins in June. “He will go to the United States as soon as he acquires a visa,” he said.
Young Korean prospects were historically hesitant to go to the United States since not many players succeeded there. But that has changed with Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers and Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have become solid Major League players, and as U.S. teams are dispatching more scouts to Korea.
Choi Won-tae of Seoul High School, who is one of the country’s top right-handed pitchers, has hired an agent to negotiate with several MLB teams, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the Dodgers.
And shortstop Park Hyo-jun of Yatap High School has drawn interest from the Yankees and San Diego Padres.
BY kwon sang-Soo, kim won [email@example.com]