Samsung joins Kia and NC in sending players to the Australian Baseball League (ABL). The company will send three prospects to improve their skills. ‘Stagnant first-round pick’ left-hander Lee Seung-hyun (21) aims to turn things around in Australia.
“We are sending a team to the Adelaide Giants of the ABL,” Samsung announced on Tuesday. “The ABL players are Lee Seung-hyun (left-handed pitcher), Park Kwon-hoo (pitcher), and Lee Byung-heon (catcher).”굿모닝토토 도메인
It’s not just the players. The team is sending pitching coach Park Hee-soo and a trainer. They will support the players locally.
The Adelaide Giants won the ABL Championship Series last season. “We have decided to maintain a sustainable cooperation in the future,” Samsung said.
Samsung left-hander Lee Seung-hyun. Photo courtesy of the Samsung Lions
Samsung decided to send its prospects to the ABL to keep them in the game, gain experience in a competitive league, and develop their skills. The team will depart from Incheon International Airport to Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 12 on KE401.
In particular, Sin-wan Lee Seung-hyun stands out. Samsung’s first pick in 2021. Highly anticipated. He made an impact in his debut season. In 41 games and 39.1 innings pitched, he had a 1-4 record, 7 holds, and a 5.26 ERA. In 2022, he posted a 4.53 ERA in 58 games, 47.2 innings pitched, with a 2-4 record, 14 shutouts, and one save.
Naturally, the expectation was for an even better 2023 season, but it didn’t happen. He struggled with back and other injuries. His velocity dropped, and so did his command. In 48 games and 43.1 innings, he had a 1-5 record, seven shutouts, five saves, and a 4.98 ERA.
He was labeled “stagnant. If Samsung is to rebound in the 2024 season, they’ll need Lee to step up. He also needs to rebound as an individual. Australia could be the land of opportunity. He will only be 22 in 2024. He has a long way to go. He’s a player we need to develop, and he has a lot of potential. Send him to Australia because he can do well.
He will be accompanied by his coach, Park Hee-soo, who was a dominant left-hander during his career. It’s a chance for him to improve.
Park Kwon-hoo is also the future of Samsung. He was a second-round pick in the 2023 rookie draft. He was called up to the first team at the end of the regular season and appeared in four games, pitching 2.2 innings. He posted a 3.38 ERA. He was praised by manager Park Jin-man for his strong pitching.
He is considered a future closer for Samsung. He pitched in the Miyazaki Education League and is back in the ABL. If he develops properly, Samsung’s mound will be even stronger.
The Lions’ young catcher Lee Byung-heon is also looking to turn things around in Australia. While they have first-team options in Kang Min-ho and Kim Jae-sung, they need more catchers. Securing future resources is essential.
Lee Byung-heon, who is still only 24 years old and has been in the military, is another player who should be able to make an impact in the first team one day. He played 23 games for the first team this season and hit .143. He needs to grow a bit more.
Samsung will be the third team to send a player to Australia this off-season. Previously, Geelong Korea was able to send players to the ABL in the off-season to improve their skills. With the disbandment of Geelong Korea, the window seemed to close.
A workaround was found. We decided to send a player to each ABL team. KIA got the ball rolling. They decided to send five players to the Canberra Cavaliers: pitchers Kwak Do-gyu, Kim Ki-hoon, Kim Hyun-soo, Hong Won-bin, and infielder Park Min.
Manager Shim Jae-hak said, “We decided to send players who need practical experience due to military service and players who lack first-team experience to give them a chance to play. We expect our players to improve their skills against high-level foreign players.”
NC took over. It decided to send pitchers Han Jae-seung and Lim Hyung-won and outfielder Park Si-won to the Brisbane Bandits. There is already a case for Seo Ho-cheol. He grew up in Geelong Korea and came back. He has fully established himself as the core infielder of the NC.
“After the end of last season, players such as Seo Ho-cheol gained experience in the ABL with Geelong Korea and showed further growth in their skills. The Brisbane Bandits are a prestigious club with multiple championships in the ABL, and we thought it would be very helpful for the players’ growth.”
Samsung is the third team to send players to Australia. Together with NC, they are sending three players. We expect to continue our cooperation in the future. There may be other teams sending additional players.