November 19, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Scouting Hyun-Jin Ryu
While we might be in for quite a wait before another Yu Darvish comes over to the States, this offseason does bring us an interesting arm from the Eastern Hemisphere. As you’ve heard, southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu was recently posted by his Korean Baseball Organization team, the Hanwha Eagles, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won negotiating rights with a $25.7 million bid. While the Dodgers have not yet decided whether they will sign Ryu or allow him to return him to Korea for another year, there stands a real chance he will be coming to Major League Baseball for the 2013 season. Today, I’ll be discussing what we should expect in the case that he does become a Dodger.
By the Numbers
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Stats As Percentage Better Than Average
Ryu has certainly been a very good player—one of the very best in KBO. To provide some context, Darvish posted ERA numbers well above 100 percent, though Ryu’s performance in strikeouts and walks was pretty much on par with what Darvish did in NPB. Ryu has led the KBO in strikeouts for years and even bumped his strikeouts up considerably this past season. He also appears to have formidable control, although he’s struggled with home runs over the past two years (which could be a sign of bad luck).
Scouting Hyun-Jin Ryu
There is some debate as to which role Ryu is best suited. Some reports in the States (the most prominent being Keith Law’s) have said he’ll succeed as no more than a long reliever, and my scouts said they’d heard other scouts expressing the same sentiment. None that I spoke with personally, however, shared that opinion (and it’s their opinions that I trust the most). In fact, they were adamantly positioned in the other camp—the camp that thinks Ryu can be a quality major-league starter—making specific mention of these concerns and firmly disagreeing. And with a total cost that figures to be in the ballpark of what Oakland paid for Yoenis Cespedes last offseason on a deal two years longer than what Ryu is asking for, it stands to reason that the Dodgers like him as a starter as well.
So what does he bring to the table? Ryu is said to throw a four-pitch mix. His fastball is average, a bit straight with velocity in the 89-91 mph range, though he can dial it up to 94-95 at times. His best pitch is his changeup, easily a plus offering with good arm speed, deception, and fade. He fills out his arsenal with two breaking balls, both of which grade out around average and break at the same angle. His slider is the better of the two, with the slow curve used more as a show-me pitch.