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From BR Bullpen
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 183 lb.
Jong-kook Kim has been a long-time infielder in the Korea Baseball Organization who has also played on the South Korean national team. He led the KBO in stolen bases once and won one Gold Glove award during his career.
Kim hit .314/.400/.571 with 13 runs and 10 RBI in 10 games in the 1994 Baseball World Cup to help South Korea win a Silver Medal. German Mesa was named the tourney's All-Star SS ahead of Kim, who in turn clearly outhit future MLBer Russ Johnson at the position. Kim was named the All-Star SS in the 1995 Asian Championship, in which South Korea won Silver and a spot in the 1996 Olympics.
He debuted professionally with the Haitai Tigers in the KBO in 1996. He hit .215/~.287/.350 and stole 22 bases as a rookie.
Kim batted .210/~.285/.323 with 13 steals in his second season, remaining a regular. His playing time fell to 42 games in 1998 (.232/~.294/.312) and just two games in 1999. By 2000, he was back to 86 games and hitting .259/~.329/.342.
In 2001, the Korea University alumnus batted .285/~.365/.377 as he emerged as a respectable offensive player for a middle infielder. He stole 21 bases, the first time since his rookie year that he had reached 20. The team was now the KIA Tigers.
He hit .287/~.364/.393 in 2002, his career season. He scored 95 runs and led the KBO with 50 steals (in 59 tries); he never topped 70 runs any other season. He won the KBO Gold Glove Award at second base that year.
In 2003, the infielder batted .250/~.334/.343 and swiped 31 bases. The next year, he hit .261/~.334/.371. His 10 homers were the most since he had clouted 11 as a rookie and he stole 39 bases. In 2005, Kim's batting line read .235/~.309/.324. Through 2005, he tied Jae-hong Park for 10th in KBO history in steals (210) and was 28th with 630 strikeouts.
The light-hitting infielder was one of the surprises of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, going 4 for 10 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, one RBI and one stolen base in four games for the successful South Korean entry.
Falling back to Earth during the regular season, Kim hit .226/~.288/.294 for KIA with 16 stolen bases in 2006. In 2007, he batted .240/~.345/.349 in 92 games. It was the first time in 7 years he did not play in 100 or more games.
Through 2007, Kim's career batting line is .248/~.325/.349 and he has stolen 239 bases in 1,194 games in the KBO.