It must be good to be a Dodger fan nowadays. With Frank McCourt a distant memory, a roster full of talent, and an ownership group willing to use its vast resources to aggressively sign free agents, it seems that optimism abounds once again at Chavez Ravine.
Case in point: the Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of left-handed starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six-year contract, addressing the team's primary offseason need -- the upgrade of its starting rotation.
“We are excited to welcome Hyun-Jin Ryu to Los Angeles and the United States, continuing the tradition of Korean pitchers with the Dodger organization,” said GM Ned Colletti. “The Dodgers continue to show the commitment to signing players from Asia and other international areas where baseball is played at the highest levels. We are looking forward to watching Ryu pitch for the franchise.”
Ryu, whose name is pronounced He-YUN Jin Ree-YOO, has gone 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA in 190 career games with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. The 25-year-old was selected as a KBO All-Star in all seven of his professional seasons and won the KBO strikeout title five times, while holding the circuit’s single-game strikeout record (17 set on May 11, 2010) and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning with 1,238 Ks and only 383 walks in 1269 innings.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder went 9-9 and ranked fifth in the league with a 2.66 ERA in 27 games. He limited opponents to a .232 batting average and led the league with a career-high 210 strikeouts, 66 more than any other KBO hurler.
Ryu has made 14 appearances at the international level, winning a gold medal as a member of the South Korean team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and earning a silver medal pitching for Team Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
In the Olympic competition, he went 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA and tossed a five-hit shutout in a win over Canada during pool play. In the WBC, the left-hander went 1-0 record with a 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP) in five games (two starts), including two scoreless relief appearances at Dodger Stadium in the semifinals against Venezuela and the championship against Japan.
Ryu will become just the 14th South Korea native to play in the Majors and the fourth to play for the Dodgers behind Hee-Seop Choi (2004-2005), Jae Seo (2006) and Chan Ho Park (1994-2001, 2008), who was the first Korean to play in the Majors when he made his debut in 1994.
"Congratulations to the Dodgers and Ryu on this great signing,” said Park. “I'm excited to see him carry on the tradition of great international pitchers in Dodger blue and have Ryu represent Korean baseball in the United States."
The Dodgers have a long history with the development of Korean baseball dating to 1981, when Tommy Lasorda hosted clinics and lectures in Korea with Japanese pitcher Senichi Hoshino.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services