Twins Are Signing “Five-Tool” High School Phenom Out of South Korea

Photo: Msple News

Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Twins’ infatuation with young foreign baseball players is continuing. This time, it is Korean high schooler Na Seung-yeop. According to MBCplus’ Bae Ji-hyun, Seung-yeop is bypassing the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Draft and signing a minor league deal with the Twins, for more than $800,000.

Bear with me on the translation as it comes from our Google overlords. It is also edited for readability.

English Translation (Via Google Translate)

At the time of the report, Na Seung-yeop was in the midst of taking part in the 2021 KBO newcomer draft held on August 24th and advancing to the US. There was a talk with the US professional baseball team [Minnesota Twins], including the specific amount and terms of the contract. But due to the unstable US local situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not easy to make a decision. However, it is known that the player himself recently made a decision to sign a contract with the US club [Twins], and he also announced his intention to abstain from the draft for the newcomers to the KBO.

Na Seung-yeop’s destination is the Minnesota Twins of the American League Central Division. Minnesota is a team familiar to Korean fans as Park Byeong-ho [Byung-ho Park] was active until the 2017 season. South Korean Scout, Taemin Kim, who played a big role at the time of posting Park Byung-ho, is a club belonging to Asia.

Kim has been observing Na Seung-yeop since he was in the first grade. It is known that he looked carefully at the field training in Atlanta earlier this year. “I couldn’t watch this year’s game directly on the spot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there was no big problem in checking Na Seung-yeop’s status as there was live TV and YouTube.

The down payment is known to be close to a million dollars. Minnesota’s international down payment limit this year, set by MLB, is $6,431,000. That’s the highest among 30 clubs. Scouts and officials said, “I know Minnesota has offered more than 800,000 dollars.”

Na Seung-yeop is a right-handed left-handed infielder [throws right-handed and bats left]. He went through Namjeongcho-Seonrin Middle School and is currently in his third year of Deoksu High School. If teammate Jang Jae-young is the biggest high school pitcher, Na Seung-yeop is highly regarded as the biggest high school hitter. He is evaluated as a “5 tool player” with an excellent physical condition of 190cm tall [6′ 2″] and 82kg in weight [180 lbs], with batting accuracy, power, fast feet and strong shoulders.

In the first place, Na Seung-yeop was selected as the most prominent candidate for the draft this year. It is impossible to nominate Seoul clubs according to the ‘prohibition of the first nomination within the same school’, but there was a high possibility of wearing the uniform of one of the lower three teams (Lotte, Hanwha, and Samsung) last year. Those teams can exercise nomination rights regardless of the place of origin. In particular, the possibility of going to Lotte, the first among the three teams, to exercise the first nomination right attracted attention.

However, as Na Seung-yeop chooses to go to the United States, it is likely that Lotte and Hanwha’s nomination strategy will change significantly, as they do not have a strong sense of first nomination in the paper. Meanwhile, Na Seung-yeop’s contract is expected to be concluded after mid-January next year in accordance with the MLB’s decision to delay the 2020-2021 international contract period from January 16 to December 16, 2021.

[End of Translation]

Star in the Making?

There is a lot to chew on in that article. The translation from Korean to English, doesn’t make it easier to comprehend. It sounds like this is the best hitting high schooler in South Korea and they talked about him as the possible #1 pick in the KBO. That’s pretty intriguing for a teenager.

Could Na Seung-yeop be the next top prospect in the Twins’ system? Is he that good? The Twins have struggled previously, with Asian players transitioning to the MLB. Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Japan) and Byung-ho Park (S. Korea) are the most notable names that never panned out. But Seung-yeop would be playing his way through the minors and not thrust onto the major league team right away.

The Minnesota Twins are known for their unconventional international signings. They routinely sign players at young ages and then groom them in the minors. Such names and their signings include Max Kepler ($800k) and Lewis Thorpe ($500k). That doesn’t even include Miguel Sano who was signed at age 16. But Latin players are more common signings than those from other areas of the world.

As for being a five-tool player? Well, just look at some highlights and you decide. I know one thing… those bat flips would look amazing in Target Field.

Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

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