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Foreign Players Heading to J-League

Posted December. 02, 2004 23:11,   


Now we should call the domestic pro-baseball league “The Korean Academy” due to its role of sending brilliant players abroad.

It has been known that minor leaguers in the United States lacking skills to advance to the majors hold dreams to enter the Japanese pro-baseball league after their values rise through the accumulated experience of Asian baseball in the Korean League.

Hyundai’s Broomba was desperate to enter the Japanese league all season, and his wishes finally came true. This season, Broomba had a batting average of 0.343, a slugging percentage of 0.468 and an on-base percentage of 0.608 as he reigned in the 3 catagories and agreed to an annual 80 million yen (nearly 800 million won) contract with extra incentives with the Orix Bluewaves after this season.

Succeeding Broomba, the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) requested a status inquiry of Doosan’s lefty Gary Lece from KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) on December 1. The team which requested the inquiry is most probably the newly launched Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Lece, who earned 17 wins this season, with his success of entering the Japanese league, would be a special case of re-entering the Japanese league through the steps of Kia (2001)-Doosan (2002)-Yomiuri Giants (2003)-Doosan (2004).

The main reason why the Japanese baseball league is keeping an eye on the foreign players in Korea is that the players are well adapted to Asian baseball as well as to verify skills. Especially, Tiron Woods (ex-Yokohama Baystars) stood on top as the batting king for two straight years in the Central league with 40 homeruns and 45 homeruns, and ex-SK Jose Fernandez’s (Seibu Lions) 32-33 homeruns, taking the team’s place as its main batter, functioned as their background before advancing to the J-league.

There is no way to block foreign players who were successful in Korea from entering the Japanese league. Tyrone Woods, who had received $200.000 (nearly 210 million won) with some bonuses from Doosan, took a 110 million yen (1.1 billion won) annual salary offer from Yokohama this season. To make a bigger bite, the rumor exists that he will receive one billion yen (10 billion won) for two years after this season.

Foreign players dreaming to be the second and third Woods are still increasing.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com