COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox own one of the top farm systems in baseball, but it's possible they could add to their collection of top-notch young players in the form of Korean free-agent pitcher Suk-Min Yoon.
Baseball America ranked Boston has having the strongest farm system in 2013.
The team also placed nine players on MLB.com's recent list of the top 100 prospects in baseball for 2014. Incredibly, their player development pipeline could get even stronger.
Baseball insider Peter Gammons recently tweeted that the Red Sox were one of a number of teams possibly interested in the 27-year-old right-handed Yoon.
According to HardballTalk's Bill Baer, Yoon is represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, who has represented a number of Red Sox players in the past.
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reported the Baltimore Orioles, along with a number of other teams, have already made an official contract offer to Yoon. However, he is still working out for teams, and as Boras was quoted by The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, a decision hasn't been made but is expected soon.
Connolly wrote that Yoon possesses a low-90s fastball and has primarily been a starter during his career. He also relieved in 2013, as he switched to closing games because of a shoulder injury.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan described Yoon's arsenal as including "a fastball that sits at 93 mph, a hard slider and what one scout deemed an above-average changeup," in a 2011 report.
Pitching for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization, Yoon was 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA in 27 games (23 starts) in 2011, winning the league MVP award, according to NESN.com's Ricky Doyle. He switched to the bullpen this past season because of his injury, but is obviously healthy if he is auditioning for major league teams.
Asia has been a burgeoning market for baseball talent in recent years with Japan leading the way. However, Korean players are starting to make their mark. Most recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed left-handed pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu before last season, and he responded with a 14-8 record with a 3.00 ERA in 30 games as a rookie in 2013.
With Yoon's prior experience, there is a good likelihood he would be ready made for the majors or close to it upon signing. That would theoretically make him desirable compared to a typical prospect that needs minor league seasoning-sometimes taking years.
It's unclear exactly what Boston's level of interest is in Yoon at this time, but as a large-market team, at least doing due diligence on free-agent prospects is a sound strategy. If they like what they see, they have plenty of resources to bring him into the fold.
Although Yoon will certainly be influenced by the size and terms of whatever contracts he is offered, it would be interesting to see if Boston would be high on his wish list of landing spots. As OvertheMonster.com's Ben Buchanan pointed out, the Red Sox currently have a surplus of starting pitchers, a full bullpen and all of those rising young pitchers in the minors-making it quite a competitive environment.
On the other hand, Boston's roster could potentially change dramatically in the near future. For instance, starters Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy, and relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller will all be free agents after the 2014 season, and there is no guarantee who among them will be back. Additionally, if Yoon has the talent, any team, including the Red Sox, would be able to eventually find a spot on their staff to work him in.
Most recently, HardballTalk's Drew Silva reported that the Orioles, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins are all interested in Yoon. However, that doesn't mean Boston couldn't jump in at any time if they decide to pursue the right-hander.
Signing Yoon may be a luxury for the pitching-rich Red Sox. However, in baseball there is no such thing as too much pitching, and acquiring the prospect could potentially make them all the stronger.MLB Statistics via Yahoo MLB Stats and Baseball-Reference.com.
In addition to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written extensively for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports (particularly the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots). He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
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