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Young slugger becomes highest-paid sophomore in S. Korean baseball

Sports 17:42 January 13, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- Kang Baek-ho, South Korean baseball's top rookie last year, is now the highest-paid sophomore in the league history.

The KT Wiz in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Sunday they've re-signed Kang for 120 million won (US$107,280) in the 2019 season, handing him the most lucractive contract for a second-year player.

Lee Jung-hoo of the Kiwoom Heroes, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, held the previous mark in 2018 at 110 million won.

In this file photo from April 3, 2018, Kang Baek-ho of the KT Wiz (R) runs toward first base after hitting a grounder against the Nexen Heroes during the top of the third inning in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kang earned 27 million won last year, and he got a raise of 93 million won, or 344 percent. That's the second-largest raise, in percentage terms, for a second-year player, behind the 400 percent increase that the Hanwha Eagles gave to left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, currently with the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 2007.

Ryu made 20 million won as a rookie in 2006 and after winning both the regular season MVP and the Rookie of the Year awards, he signed for 100 million won in 2007.

Kang, a two-way phenom in high school, focused on hitting in his first professional season, and it paid major dividends. Kang homered in his very first at-bat on Opening Day, and went on to lead all rookies with 29 home runs and 84 RBIs. He won the top rookie honors in a landslide.

"I won't remain satisfied with what I did last season," Kang said in a statement released by the Wiz. "I'll prepare for the new season the best I can and live up to expectations of my club and my fans."

The Wiz said the sky is the limit for their 19-year-old slugger and added they hope he'll develop into a true franchise star.

In this file photo from Nov. 19, 2018, Kang Baek-ho of the KT Wiz speaks after receiving the Korea Baseball Organization's Rookie of the Year award during a ceremony in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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