By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- The Chicago Cubs have signed a little-known South Korean college dropout to a minor league deal, a team official told Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday, saying the team hopes the player will realize his potential in a new environment.
Baseball America, which covers young prospects in and outside the United States, announced on its website over the weekend that the Cubs had signed shortstop Son Ho-young. Sung Min-kyu, a Pacific Rim scout for the Cubs, confirmed the transaction Tuesday.
Son, 19, played parts of the 2013 season with Hongik University in Seoul but dropped out before completing his freshman year. He played his last game on June 29 last year.
As Hongik's primary leadoff man and shortstop, Son batted .298 (17-for-57) in 15 games with 12 runs scored, five RBIs, five walks and 14 steals.
"In his first season at Hongik, he was a great defensive player with a good throwing arm," Sung said. "He had above average speed and could steal bases. He was a fearless player."
Sung said he had been seeking to sign talented but unheralded players out of South Korea who came with a low price tag. Sung added, without divulging the financial details, that the Cubs signed Son "at a bargain," given his raw talent.
Jang Chae-geun, Son's manager at Hongik, also said the youngster "could run, could throw and could hit," but added that Son had difficulty fitting in with the team last year. Jang said Son dropped out because he didn't want to play anymore.
According to Sung, Son did some odd jobs during his time away from baseball. Sung said Son told him that he missed playing baseball over the past several months.
"I think he grew up and matured as a person during that time off," the scout said. "I don't think his past should be a problem. He will get a new opportunity, and I believe he will be able to make adjustments."
Son is expected to join the Cubs next month after his visa is issued, Sung added.
(U20 World Cup) S. Korea going for historic title vs. Ukraine
(U20 World Cup) S. Korea's Lee Kang-in wins Golden Ball as tournament MVP
BTS dazzles 25,000 fans in Busan
(LEAD) Moon suggests trust-based denuclearization, peace
Thousands of S. Koreans ask gov't to approve their trip to Mount Kumgang