South Korean teenager Seong-Min Kim, the left-handed pitcher who sparked controversy in his native country when he first tried to sign with the Orioles, remains unsigned and his now back in his home country.
Kim signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles that included a $500,000 signing bonus in the offseason, but the commissioner’s office chose not to approve the deal in February, saying the club did not go through the proper procedures – specifically conducting a status check of Kim’s eligibility with the Korean Baseball Organization.
Since then, the Orioles – and any other major-league club – have the opportunity to sign Kim, but none have.
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However, the Orioles did bring Kim to the club’s minor-league facility in Sarasota early last month for a workout, according to an industry source. Among those in attendance were professional scout Bruce Kison, Florida operations coordinator Dave Schmidt and pitching rehab coordinator Scott McGregor.
But there’s been no move to re-sign Kim, who was seen at South Korea’s top left-handed high school pitching prospect.
It's odd that the Orioles would bring Kim all the way to Florida to see him and not sign him. The club caught plenty of slack internationally after the initial signing snafu, so maybe their lack of action is a good-faith gesture.
His initial signing enraged the KBO and KBA, which saw the move as a fleecing of the nation’s young baseball talent. Since then, the KBA also banned Orioles scouts from all amateur games.
But Kim has now returned home to South Korea, where he’s still unallowed to participate in Korean Baseball Association activities, the source said.
Kim was 17 when he first signed with the Orioles and still had one year of high school remaining. He turned 18 on April 26. He is undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds, but the organization believed he would develop physically in the minors. He was lauded for having a plus curveball and superior control.