By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Jan. 10, 2023
South Korea team manager Lee Kang-chul has announced a 30-player roster, including both current and former MLB players, for the 2023 World Baseball Classic in March. Before the tournament starts, let’s take a look at the players who will represent South Korea.
San Diego Padres shortstop Kim Ha-seong will see plenty of playing time for Korea. The 26 year old played 150 games for San Diego in 2022, hitting 11 home runs with a .708 OPS in 582 plate appearances.
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ji-Man Choi will likely split time at first and designated hitter. Choi hit 11 home runs in 2022 for the Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to the Pirates early in the offseason.
The third and final current MLB position player on Korea’s roster is Tommy Edman. Edman was born in Michigan; however Edman’s mother was born in South Korea. The World Baseball Classic gives players the unique experience of playing for a parent’s country of birth, as opposed to the Olympics, which requires citizenship. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Gold Glove winner has experience at all three outfield positions, but spent the most time at second base in 2022, playing 89 games there.
The 2022 KBO MVP Jung Hoo Lee will play the outfield for Korea. Lee plays for the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization, and had an outstanding 2022 season, hitting 23 home runs to go along with a .349 average and a .996 OPS. At only 24 years of age, Lee will gain plenty of interest if he decides to make a switch to the MLB.
The Korea roster will feature 10 right-handed and five left-handed pitchers. Of those 15 pitchers, two former MLB players, Kwang Hyun Kim and Hyeon-jong Yang, will join the team. Kim formerly played with the St. Louis Cardinals and Yang with the Texas Rangers. Other pitchers on the roster include Lee Yong-chan from the NC Dinos, Kim Won-Jung from the NPB’s Lotte Giants, and Jeong Cheol-won from the Doosan Bears.
Yang Eui-ji, the starting catcher for the Doosan Bears, will be behind home plate for Korea. Ji has won five KBO Gold Glove Awards for his exceptional fielding at catcher.
Korea joins Japan, Australia, Czech Republic and China in Pool B. The first round for Pool B will run from March 9-13 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.