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Korean baseball MVP Jung-hoo Lee set to join MLB in 2024

Jung-Hoo Lee
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t heard of Korean baseball star Jung-hoo Lee, get ready because the KBO league MVP will soon become one of the most sought-after players taking their talent to the MLB ranks. He’s already made a name for himself in the Korea Baseball Organization, but it appears Lee has even bigger ambitions, taking his talent stateside.

According to Sung Min Kim, the Kiwoom Heroes (Lee’s KBO team) have given Lee permission to be posted to the MLB bidding system following the 2023 season, putting him on track for a 2024 MLB debut.

Related: Korean baseball star Lee Jung-hoo ‘intent’ on playing for MLB in 2024

Who is Jung-hoo Lee?

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - USA-KOR
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

It’s understandable if you’re not quite aware of Lee’s game quite yet. Consider this your warning shot. Some may remember him from when he represented the South Korean baseball team in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, but it’s been a few years since.

Being that his father, Jong-beom Lee, was a 13-time KBO All-Star baseball legend who earned the nickname ‘Son of the Wind’, the younger Lee is a bit of a local prodigy as well. Naturally, he’s earned the nickname ‘Grandson of the Wind’.

Lee put his name on a bigger map by winning the KBO league MVP award in 2022, but he’s long been tearing the cover off the ball for the Kiwoom Heroes in Korea. Even during his debut season, the 6-foot-tall outfielder won the KBO Rookie of the Year award in 2017.

But his value has been rising steadily as of late, and the 2022 baseball season was by far his best as a professional athlete, where Lee won KBO The Batting Average Champion of the Year award. He was also the league’s hits leader and the slugging, on-base leader as well.

  • Jung-hoo Lee stats (2022): .349/.421/.575, .996 OPS, 23 home runs, 10 triples in 553 ABs

While he’s proven to be one of the best hitters in his sector, Lee has also shown he’s pretty handy with the glove in the outfield as well. Amazingly, he’s won a Golden Glove in his past five seasons.

Many have called him the best pure hitter in the Korean baseball leagues and is known for being able to spray the ball all over the park. Boasting the record for the best career batting average in KBO history (.342) among those with 3,000+ plate appearances, Lee has shown he’s ready for a bigger test in the near future.

The left-handed hitting Lee appears to be the total package, stealing, on average, ten bases per season, and even has a career BB/K ratio of 334/281. From having a patient eye, a bit of athleticism, a powerful bat, and a Gold Glove, Lee is certain to land a big paycheck once the 2024 MLB offseason rolls around.

Fans can even catch a sneak peek of his skillset in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, where he’s set to participate with his Korean teammates.

Related: World Baseball Classic 2023: Teams, rosters, and everything else you need to know