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Hyungchan Um Looks to Be First Korean-Born Catcher in MLB

 Brad McCaffrey - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 24th, 2024 4:15pm EDT

Hyungchan Um is looking to become the first Korean-born catcher in MLB history. The 20-year-old, born in Seoul, has been part of the Royals minor league system since 2023, where he has played for the ACL Royals, consistently putting up great numbers, especially this year. 

According to Jeff Duda on X, Um’s outstanding performance, with a .310 batting average and a .900 OPS in 27 games, has earned him a call-up to the Columbia Fireflies, the Royals’ Single A affiliate. This is not just a step but a significant leap in his journey, marking a pivotal moment in his career. 

His best game was on May 14th, when he went 4 for 5 and had a double. In his last two games with the ACL Royals, he collected two hits on June 17th and 18th. These performances showcased his individual skills and helped prove to management that he deserved a promotion.

Before this season, Um played with the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League, where he had a .248 batting average and a .647 OPS in 33 games. However, this off-season work, where he spent time fine-tuning his craft, has paid early dividends.

The only other Korean-born catcher to make it far within the minor leagues was Eric Sim, a former catcher in the Giants system who made it to Triple-A and now works as a content creator on YouTube alongside big names like Trevor Bauer.  

If Hyungchan Um’s trajectory of improvement continues, he could not only make the country of South Korea proud but also ignite a wave of support from Royals fans, eagerly anticipating his future successes. 

Photo Credit: Australian Baseball League on X

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Brad McCaffrey - World Baseball Network