KBO League star Jung Hoo Lee is unlikely to play again this season due to an ankle injury. The next time he does take the field though, it is likely to be on an MLB one.
Despite having his season cut short, Lee is still expected to be posted for MLB clubs by his current team, the Kiwoom Heroes, once the KBO League's 2023 season is over. The Heroes confirmed earlier this year they would post Lee. His ankle injury is not expected to impact those plans, per Jeeho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency.
Lee is coming off an MVP 2022 season in the KBO, and he picked up right where he left off. In 85 games this season for the Heroes, Lee posted an .863 OPS. He also represented Team Korea at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. In four games, he racked up a .429 batting average.
Despite a reputation for elite bat-to-ball skills, Lee, who has not yet turned 25, might be an even better defender. Predominantly at centerfield, Lee won a KBO Golden Glove Award in five consecutive seasons (2018-2022.) He was also named KBO Rookie of the Year in 2017.
MLB players who have faced off against Lee in the KBO have been impressed by his skill set. Current New York Mets pitcher Brooks Raley noted that Lee's “hand-eye coordination is amazing, and his power has really come along.” Raley referred to Lee as a “great player.”
Lee will enter a free agent class that is not viewed as a particularly strong one, aside from headliner Shohei Ohtani. That might help his case in attracting a sizeable contract once he is posted by the Heroes.
One way or another, his availability is sure to attract attention, considering who will be representing him during the process: Scott Boras' agency has already announced Lee as a client.