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KBO: Jung Hoo Lee Will Be Posted, Seeks Contract In Major League Baseball

 Leif Skodnick  |    Aug 11th, 2023 2:00pm EDT

Outfielder Lee Jung-Hoo of the Kiwoom Heroes runs to first base in the bottom of the fifth inning during the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) League opening game between Kiwoom Heroes and Lotte Giants at Gocheok Skydome on April 02, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

Korean Outfielder Jung Hoo Lee, 24, will be posted by his team Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO League this offseason. Jeehoo Yoo of Yonhap News was the first one to report on Lee’s intentions to come to MLB on January 2. Yoo also reported that Lee would need season-ending surgery on July 24 to repair a fractured ankle.

On August 10, MLB Network reporter Jon Morosi reported that Lee will still be posted for MLB teams this offseason despite the injury. Lee played in 85 games for the Kiwoom Heroes this season and hit six home runs, drove in 45 runs with an OPS of .863.

The Kiwoom Heroes spoke to MLB reporter Michael Clair about their decision to post Lee on Jan 2.

“After some internal discussions, we agreed to respect the player’s intent to play in Major League Baseball,” the Heroes said. “We’ll provide whatever support is necessary for the player.”

Lee first told the Heroes of his intentions to be posted on December 19 per Yonhap News. He also spoke with Michael Clair about his decision to pursue a career in MLB on January 2.

“The team has been giving me so much support since I was a rookie, and I was able to start dreaming about playing overseas because the team helped me grow as a player,” Lee said.

Lee won the KBO League MVP in 2022 and he struck out just 32 times in 627 plate appearances. He hit 23 home runs and had an OPS of .996 last season with a .421 OBP and a wRC+ of 175. Lee controls the zone well and walked 66 times, which is more than twice as many times as he struck out in 2022. His outfield defense is one of his strengths, with Lee having won five KBO Gold Gloves from 2018-22. Lee has thrown out 31 runners in his career and has a fielding percentage of .992. In his KBO career, Lee has played 570 games in center field, 275 games in right field and 139 games in left field. 

Lee was the first rookie to appear in a KBO game out of high school and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2017, hitting.324 with an OPS of .812 in his rookie season. Lee also hit two home runs drove in 47 runs and stole 12 bases.

Lee has played seven seasons in the KBO, hitting 65 home runs with 515 RBI, 69 stolen bases and an OPS of .898.

Lee’s father, Lee Jong-Beom, was also a KBO MVP in 1994. His father was nicknamed “Son of the Wind,” so Jung Hoo Lee is now nicknamed “Grandson of the Wind.” Lee Jong-Beom was a shortstop and outfielder and played in the KBO from 1993-97 and again from 2001-11 for the Haitai/Kia Tigers. From 1998-2001, Lee Jong-Beom played in Nippon Professional Baseball for the Chunichi Dragons.

New York Mets relief pitcher Brooks Raley played with the Lotte Giants in the KBO and pitched against Lee from 2017-2019. Raley spoke to Jon Morosi about Lee.

“His hand-eye coordination is amazing, and his power has really come along. Earlier this year, I saw a highlight of him hitting a home run to the opposite field. That said a lot to me about how strong he’s become,” Raley said.

Lee played for South Korea in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and went 6-14 with five RBI in four games. Lee also won a silver medal with South Korea at the 2019 WBSC premier 12.

Lee will be represented by agent Scott Boras. This was announced by the Boras Corporation via Instagram in late January.