A general view of game one of a doubleheader between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox on June 18, 2023 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The Boston Red Sox signed international free agent Seoul High School pitcher Chan-Sol Lee to a minor league contract on Monday.
Lee, who stands 6-foot-1 and is 194 pounds, tops out at 96 mph and was projected as a first round pick during the 2023 Korea Baseball Organization Draft in September before signing with Boston.
During his senior year at Seoul High School, he threw 20 innings in 11 games with a 6.30 ERA, recording 31 strikeouts and a 1.75 WHIP.
Lee was ranked No. 7 on KBOprospects.com prior to his signing with the Red Sox.
Lee’s signing bonus is worth $300,000, which is the second-largest signing bonus the Red Sox have ever given out to an international free agent under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
The only other international free agent player that signed a bigger contract with the Red Sox was Venezuelan pitcher Jedixson Paez, who inked a deal worth $450,000 in January 2021.
A player who signs with a foreign organization rather than entering the KBO draft is not allowed to join a KBO team until two years after they return to South Korea. Very few players from South Korea sign with a Major League Baseball organization out of high school.
Current and former MLB players such as Ji-hwan Bae, Shin Soo Choo, Chan Ho Park and Ji-man Choi are the only Korean born players that have signed out of high school during the international signing period in Major League Baseball, playing professionally in the United States rather than starting their carers in the Korea Baseball Organization.
Lee is the first player from South Korea that the Red Sox have signed during the international signing period since Jin-ho Cho signed as an international free agent on March 30, 1998. Cho was also the first South Korean-born player to ever play for the Red Sox, making his Major League debut on July 4, 1998.
The first Red Sox player from South Korea that ever signed into the organization was Sun-Woo Kim back on November 21, 1997. Kim didn’t make his debut in Major League Baseball until June 15, 2001, after spending several seasons in the Minor Leagues. Both Kim and Cho signed prior to MLB enacting rules to limit the signing of international free agents.