As pitchers and catchers are reporting to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, the Baltimore Orioles have made their biggest splash of the off season. Pending a physical, the team has reached an agreement with pitcher Suk-min Yoon of the Korean league (as was first reported by CBS’ Jon Heyman). Yoon, at 27 years old, has a fastball which is generally between 90-92 MPH, but tops out at 96. He also has a hard-breaking slider that tops out in the mid-80’s. After Masahiro Tanaka, Yoon was probably one of the more heralded prospects of the off season out of Korea. Yoon was primarily a starter, although last year he was converted to relief after a shoulder injury.
So as I said above, this is all pending a physical which of course has been a motif for the Orioles
this off season. Several days ago Yoon tweeted out a picture of himself in an Orioles hat, and rumor had it that the Orioles were hot on him for some time. Yoon had a 2.45 ERA in 2011, but has had injury issues since then. Whether the Orioles view Yoon as a starter or a reliever is unclear, however that will definitely now be something to watch for the next six weeks in camp. The Orioles obviously have not confirmed this signing given the fact that it’s pending the dreaded physical. According to Britt Ghiroli of mlb.com, the contract will be for three years $5.75 million.
So other than that and the fact that pitchers and catchers reporting, there’s not much else going on in and around Birdland! The first spring training game is two weeks from tomorrow, and it’s worth mentioning again that fans will not be seeing anything remotely close to the finished product. Remember that pitchers and catchers are reporting (and injured players) – the rest of the team won’t join in until next week. So the pitchers are always a week or so ahead of the hitters in terms of being ready when the exhibition games actually begin. The other thing that fans should watch closely is the battle for the closer role. It’s presumed to be Tommy Hunter, however if he struggles to find the strike zone might the Orioles have to look elsewhere?
Pitchers and catchers reporting is simply the first in a long line of bench marks which tell us that the off season is slowly coming to an end. And of course as I say this, there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground in and around Baltimore. But the off season is progressing, and it’s slowly starting to thaw out the winter. I suppose you could have fooled me based on looking out the window, but that’s life! One has to hope that later today or tomorrow we aren’t reporting that Yoon failed the physical, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.