SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) — A senior official of South Korea’s national baseball team will travel to the United States this week to meet US-born major league players of Korean descent and assess their interest in representing South Korea internationally, sources said Thursday.
According to industry sources, Youm Kyoung-youb, technical director for South Korea at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) was scheduled to fly to the United States on Thursday and meet with about a handful of major leagues of Korean descent.
Upon his appointment as technical director in July, Youm, a former manager and general manager of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said South Korea will keep its doors open to foreign-born players of Korean descent.
Authorized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in conjunction with Major League Baseball (MLB), the WBC allows players to compete for their parents’ country of birth even if the players themselves were not born there. That’s why US-born stars Freddie Freeman (Canada), Manny Machado (Dominican Republic), Sergio Romo (Mexico), Bo Bichette (Brazil) and Mike Piazza (Italy) donned different colors at the WBC or in qualifiers for the WBC . Many members of the Israel team at the 2017 WBC were American citizens of Jewish descent.
South Korea nominees include: St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Edman, the 2021 National League Gold Glove winner at second base who was born in Michigan to a Korean mother and American father; Dane Dunning, right-hander for the Texas Rangers whose mother is Korean; and Toronto Blue Jays minor league pitcher Mitch White, also the son of a Korean mother.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Rob Refsnyder was born in South Korea but was adopted by an American family as a baby.
According to the sources, the KBO wanted to send Youm to the United States in July or August, but the MLB commissioner’s office asked for more time to lay the groundwork for players to participate in the offseason tournament.
The WBC 2023, the fifth edition of the competition, will take place from March 8th to 21st.
South Korea finished third in the inaugural event in 2006 and second in 2009. In the next two editions in 2013 and 2017, the country did not get out of the first round.
South Korea meets Japan, Australia, China and a qualifier winner in Group B. All Group B matches will be played at the Tokyo Dome in the Japanese capital from March 9th to 13th.
In the first round, four groups of five teams will be played in round-robin play, and the top two places in these four groups will advance to the quarter-finals.
During his stay in the US, Youm also plans to meet with two active South Korean premier league teams Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres.