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S. Korea seeks meeting with Japan, Taiwan over MLB scouting

All Headlines 18:52 February 27, 2012

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is seeking a trilateral meeting with Japan and Taiwan to discuss their response to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams' signing of young Asian talent, officials said Monday.

Lee Sang-hyun, the secretary general of the Baseball Federation of Asia (BFA), met with Japanese and Taiwanese representatives in Tokyo last Thursday, on the sidelines of the BFA's executive committee meeting, the BFA said. The three officials discussed forming a trilateral body in the near future to counter what they believe is indiscriminate scouting of Asian prospects by MLB teams.

The trilateral organization would bring together representatives of both amateur and professional baseball in those three countries.

The call for the unified countermeasure appears to have been triggered by a controversial signing earlier this year by the Baltimore Orioles of a South Korean high school student.

The O's signed a 17-year-old sophomore pitcher Kim Seong-min in January, but the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which runs the country's top professional league, claimed Baltimore didn't tender a status check, a step required for MLB clubs, under the two leagues' player contract agreement, before approaching South Korean amateur or pros.

The Orioles later apologized for their "unintentional breach of protocol." MLB on Feb. 16 fined the Orioles an unspecified amount and said it would hold up the contract for 30 days.

The Korea Baseball Association (KBA), the local governing body of the sport, has suspended Kim from playing and coaching in Korea indefinitely for violating a local rule preventing underclassmen from contacting a pro club. The KBA has also banned Baltimore scouts from attending KBA-sanctioned games.

The Asian countries' pro baseball bodies will also seek to revise their player contract agreements with MLB, officials said. Earlier this month, a South Korean official told Yonhap News Agency that the KBO would seek to change its agreement so that MLB teams would be banned from signing Korean amateurs altogether.

Players outside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico can join major league teams as international free agents after they turn 16.


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