Yankees-Giants duel likely for Japanese outfielder

KBO outfielder Jung Hoo Lee is a target for the New York Yankees.

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Another Japanese baseball player is on the Yankees’ radar. However, the team has to battle the Giants, who are equally interested in the outfielder.

Meet Jung Hoo Lee, the emerging talent. When he becomes available for posting in the imminent future, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi suggests that the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees will be at the forefront, leading the charge to secure the services of this popular outfielder.

This particular player dons the No. 51 jersey, inspired by his admiration for the future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki. Known by the nickname “Grandson of the Wind,” despite not being renowned for extraordinary speed, he stands at 25 years old and excels as a left-handed hitting outfielder proficient in center field as well as corner positions.

Japanese outfielder on the Yankees radar

Though Yoshinobu Yamamoto remains the most potent target for the Yankees, they are also monitoring other talents there. Jung Hoo Lee may not be synonymous with prodigious power potential but a suitable player for the Yankees. Standing at 6 feet and weighing 171 pounds, the outfielder has amassed 65 home runs over seven seasons in the KBO League, with his career-best performance in 2022, hitting 23 home runs and securing 113 RBIs en route to winning the MVP title. However, Lee has crafted a commendable KBO League career, boasting a .340/.407/.491 slash line. As the 2017 KBO rookie of the year and a recipient of five Golden Glove awards, Lee has established himself as a formidable presence.

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According to insights from The Athletic’s Keith Law, Lee is currently hailed as “the best hitter in Korea,” wielding a doubles-oriented power bat and demonstrating “exceptional hand-eye coordination,” reminiscent of his idol. Notably, he consistently makes hard contact, and his strikeout rate remained below 6% over the past two seasons, the latest concluding after 86 games in July due to a broken ankle that necessitated surgery.

In making comparisons, Morosi likens Lee to Ender Inciarte, a veteran MLB outfielder with a nine-season career, whose home run peak was 11 in a single season, and who maintained a career average of .280 and a .382 slugging percentage.

Nevertheless, Jung Hoo Lee appears to align with what the Yankees are seeking, even if he doesn’t transform into a major league standout. As a left-handed hitting and versatile outfielder with a penchant for avoiding strikeouts, he could potentially address the Yankees’ concerns. The team’s 23.9% strikeout rate ranked as the 10th-highest in MLB, and it was even more pronounced for left-handed hitters at 25.6%, placing them at No. 7 in the league.

Morosi highlights that Lee’s nickname was inherited from his father, the esteemed Korean baseball figure Jong-beom Lee, who earned the moniker “Son of the Wind” due to his exceptional speed.

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