The interest of the American baseball world in Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom Heroes), who has declared his intention to play Major League Baseball (MLB), is growing every day.
After MLB.com, the official MLB website, recently ranked Lee as the 13th-best free agent, local reports said he should be ranked among the top five hitters.
On July 7 (KST), Fox Sports in the United States ranked Lee’s name as the No. 4 hitter in the MLB free agent market for the 2024 season, behind Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman.
“If Lee hadn’t injured his ankle this season, there would have been more interest in his MLB future,” the publication said, “He is the most versatile player in Korean baseball and is considered a much more talented prospect than Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres).”
In the MLB, Lee’s most desired ability is to make contact with the ball to the center of the bat.
His .340 career batting average in seven KBO seasons ranks first all-time among players with more than 3,000 plate appearances.
Baseball stats site FanGraphs.com’s projection for Lee’s 2024 season using the SZymborski Projection System (ZiPS) is a .282 batting average, .342 on-base percentage, .412 slugging percentage, nine home runs, and 2.2 wins above replacement (WAR).
Fox Sports predicts that Lee will perform even better once he finishes his adjustment period.
“Just as it took Kim Ha-seong a while to establish himself as a hitter in MLB, Lee may need time to fully adjust,” the outlet said, “and at just 25 years old, there will be plenty of teams willing to take a chance on him.”
Lee’s quest for the big leagues, which will begin through the posting system (closed competitive bidding), is expected to begin in earnest later this month.
MLB Network reporter John Morosi tweeted, “Lee is expected to be posted later this month. He may have to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. (the fourth Thursday in November),” he said, adding, “We’ll wait until after the Korean Series.” 먹튀검증