Should We Believe In The Hyun-Soo Kim Rumors?
Rumors, rumors, rumors, that’s all they are, according to the Baltimore Orioles. As @Britt_Ghiroli reported yesterday, the Orioles released a statement denying the rumor that the team was looking to release Kim from his two year deal after only three weeks into Spring Training.
FoxSports.com broke the official news that the O’s were apparently unhappy with Kim’s lack of production this spring after bringing him over from South Korea and giving him a two year / 7 million dollar deal. Expectations were high for the left fielder as the Orioles believed he was a viable answer to the void that the team faced all last year at that position. He has also proved to be a capable candidate for the leadoff spot in the lineup as his ability to get on base is very impressive.
However, thus far, the production has not translated from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) to the MLB. In limited plate appearances, Kim is batting .182 and began his Spring Training going hitless in his first 23 plate appearances.
Regardless, however those numbers translate, one thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about Spring Training. There have been plenty of reasons over the years to give enough reason to make a strong statement that Spring Training numbers don’t mean much. Kim has readily admitted that he has not lost confidence in himself, and that his struggles are merely a matter of facing pitchers he has never seen before.
“I just have to face new pitchers without knowing what kind of pitches they have, just going in, not knowing who they are really. That’s the only thing.”
One would hope that the Orioles statement is true, and that they have not given up on the South Korean native. They gave up little to sign him and other than Joey Rickard, a Rule 5 draft pick that has been having a great spring, there is little in the way of front runners for a starting left field position. However, roster spots are at a premium due to Rickard’s Rule 5 requirement (any player taken in a Rule 5 draft must remain with the major league team throughout the season) and Dylan Bundy, who is out of minor league options (Bundy was drafted in 2011 with the 4th overall pick and was given a major league contract immediately- he has reached the year in his contract where he is no longer eligible to spend time in the minor leagues).
Chris Tillman Named Opening Day Starter.
What is a surprise to few, Tillman was named by the O’s to be their Opening Day starter on April 4th against the Minnesota Twins. It will be the third year in a row that Tillman has taken the mound on Opening Day for Baltimore. He had the worst year of his career in 2015, posting a record of 11-11 and gave up an average of five runs per nine innings (4.99 ERA). But, optimism will have to set in, and Orioles’ fans will hope Tillman can return to his 2014 form where he saw a 3.34 ERA, a 13-8 record, and an appearance in the All-Star Game. Time will only tell, but one thing is for sure, and that is that the Orioles’ offensive firepower will most likely get him run support which, hopefully, give him the comfort he needs to trust his stuff and return to one of the American League’s best starters.
Jonathon Schoop Is Poised For A Breakout.
Schoop saw limited playing time last season due to injury, appearing in only 86 games. But he took full advantage and provided pop with his bat and was able to get on base. He belted 15 homeruns in 321 plate appearances (a homerun in every 21.4 at-bats) and posted a .279 average. The O’s organization can only expect things to get better for the 24 year old second baseman, who also brings defensive prowess with huge range and a strong arm. With power bats being added to the lineup in the form of Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez, and Chris Davis back in the fold, Schoop should have plenty of opportunities to be overlooked by opposing pitching, giving him ample chances to make them pay.
The old “Spring Training doesn’t matter” adage could apply here, but, for what its worth, Schoop has been tearing the cover off the ball so far this March. He is batting .358 in 53 plate appearances with three homeruns. The potential for Schoop to put up big numbers is being displayed so far, and we will hope that it continues throughout 2016.
As always, Let’s Go O’s!