Former minor leaguers find new homes in KBO

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Former minor leaguers find new homes in KBO

Beggars can’t be choosers.


Son Ho-young and Moon Chan-jong

Imagine yourself in the shoes of Son Ho-young or Moon Chan-jong, two former minor league players who were selected in the draft for the KBO on Monday.

They spent some time away from organized baseball after getting cut by their U.S. clubs. Now they have a chance to resume their professional careers at home in their mid- to late-20s.

Would you care which position you were be asked to play? These two don’t.

“As long as I get to play baseball, I’d play anywhere on the field,” said Son, ex-Chicago Cubs prospect who was picked 23rd overall by the LG Twins. “I’d feel comfortable at shortstop and third base, but I don’t really care.”

Son played second base, shortstop and third base in rookie ball and Single-A and even dabbled at pitching. But the 25-year-old said he’d rather be on the field than on the mound. He slashed .238/.310/.295 with 17 RBIs and 16 steals in 69 minor league games.

“I am most confident in my arm and baserunning,” he said. “I’d also like to hit well. Whatever the team asks me to do, I’ll do it.”

Moon, who reached Triple-A in the Houston Astros system in 2015 and 2016, also played all over the infield in the minors. Counting his brief stint in Australia, Moon appeared in 54 games at third base, 175 games at second base and 323 games at shortstop. Moon batted .261/.340/.352 in 507 career minor league games with 16 home runs and 97 steals.

He went to Kiwoom Heroes with the 57th pick in Monday’s draft. They already have an All-Star shortstop in Kim Ha-seong, who’s four years younger than Moon. With the path to shortstop blocked for the time being, Moon said, “I am confident I can play both second base and shortstop, but I’ll go along with whatever the team wants me to do.”

Son and Moon took vastly different paths to the KBO. Son dropped out of a Korean college in 2013 and signed a minor league deal with the Cubs the next year. He got released before the 2017 season and returned home to complete his mandatory military service and later played independent ball.

Moon was on a more traditional developmental route. He signed with the Astros out of high school in 2009 but never got past Triple-A. He was cut loose in 2016 without having reached the big show.

Son said he regretted having quit his collegiate career, admitting that it was a rash decision on his part. But he also claimed he didn’t have any other choice at the time.

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