Seong-min Kim (Korea01)

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Seong-min Kim (김성민)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Seong-min Kim was at the center of a tense controversy between Major League Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization when he signed a contract as an amateur free agent with the Baltimore Orioles on January 31, 2012.

He was considered the top high school pitcher in South Korea at the time and the Orioles offered him a signing bonus equivalent to $650,000 - which may not sound huge by MLB standard but was more than the annual salary of the biggest stars in the KBO at the time. Korean authorities were incensed as they felt the signing was in contravention of agreements with MLB that its teams would not poach Korean amateur players who had not completed high school or been passed over in the KBO draft. There had been other similar incidents in the past, and the Koreans wanted to stand firm, fearing that if such poaching of talented young players became more common, it would have a huge detrimental impact on the development of the national game. On February 7th, the KBO announced that not only was it banning Kim from all competition in Korea, but it was also banning all Orioles scouts from attending amateur events sanctioned by the Korea Baseball Association, such as high school and college tournaments. MLB then stepped in a week later to void Kim's contract over the protests of Orioles GM Dan Duquette, and issued a fine to the Orioles, in order to restore good relations with the Korean Federation. The Orioles then formally apologized to the Koreans for their actions.

MLB's actions restored the good relations with Korea and solidified the rules concerning player signings, but Kim was left in limbo. His suspension was still in effect, and as a result, he had to move to Japan to be able to play college baseball, doing so at Fukuoka University in 2013. The suspension was finally lifted in 2014, allowing him to return home and complete his college studies.

He was drafted by the SK Wyverns in the KBO Draft in 2016 and joined the team in 2017, but was quickly traded to the Nexen Heroes, where he went 4-3, 4.93 in 33 games. He was used as a swingman in his rookie season, but was almost exclusively a reliever after that, with mixed results. He went 2-1, 6.19 in 46 games for Nexen in 2018. Nexen became the Kiwoom Heroes in 2019 and he had his best season, going 2-0, 2.56 in 50 games. However, he fell to 1-0, 6.46 in 25 games in 2020 and in 2021 was 2-3, 3.28 in 47 games.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Eduardo A. Encina: "South Korean teenager Seong-Min Kim remains unsigned despite working out for Orioles", Baltimore Sun, June 12, 2012. [1]
  • Sung-Min Kim: "Updating the Seong-Min Kim story", Camden Chat, March 10, 2014. [2]

Related Sites[edit]