A look at the new San Diego Padres’ infielder Ha-Seong Kim.
KBO sensation Ha-Seong Kim is a member of the San Diego Padres.
The Padres did not possess a real need for infielders, but that did not stop A.J. Preller and his staff from signing the young player. The team spent $25 million and invested four years into the 25-year-old right-handed hitter from Korea, who is considered a KBO superstar.
Kim shows plenty of versatility to his game and could factor immediately for the Padres in 2021 in several different areas.
Most of his playing time in the KBO came as a shortstop. He did also play third base for the Heroes in his seven seasons in Korea. The thought is that he could transition to second base or possibly play a corner outfield spot if needed. Kim provides versatility to a team full of players who can play multiple positions. The Padres did well in loading the roster with players who can play multiple positions.
Let us take a further look at Ha-Seong Kim and what he provides to the Padres.
There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Kim as he possesses a rare combination of speed and power. The bat-speed is real, and he gets excellent carry to his ball of the barrel. He probably won’t be a big power threat at the major league level, but he will drive the ball in the gap and surprise a few teams.
The fact Kim can play multiple positions is another positive for this young player. He is blessed with plus speed, though Kim is not considered a speed-burner. The thought is that he will steal 10-15 bags at the major league level. Time will tell if he can handle playing the outfield, but he should be athletic enough to make the transition. At the age of 25, there is the belief that we have yet to see the best baseball from this right-handed hitter.
The biggest concern is whether or not Kim can consistently hit a major league fastball. The average velocity in the KBO was in the high 80s, and there were whispers a decent fastball in Korea could beat the right-handed hitter. He will see heaters in the triple digits while playing for the Padres and will need to amend his swing to produce. The swing is fluid, and there is plenty to like, but the leg-kick and timing mechanisms will not work against the advanced pitchers in the States.
There is a lot of swing-and-miss to his swing, and no KBO position player has ever really enjoyed success at the major league level. There are plenty of reasons to doubt if Kim can adjust enough to make an impact. It may take him time to find his stride in all reality. His spring training at-bats will be huge in evaluating if he is making the necessary changes to his swing.
There are some concerns if Kim can adjust to major league pitching. If he can, his versatility and knowledge of the game should be a positive for the Padres. The beginning of the year may be tough for the Korean player, but he should make the adjustments and prove critics wrong.
The Padres will give Kim every opportunity to play. His bat and how well he handles high-velocity pitching will dictate how much playing time he receives. There is a lot to like in Ha-Seong Kim as he may not have hit his potential in the game of baseball. Major league coaching and the push to be better could bring his total game to a whole new level. Only time will tell.