(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 11-12, photo)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball star Kim Ha-seong, recently posted for major league clubs, said Friday he grew more confident in himself after his much-talked about dinner with a fellow Korean big league veteran.
Prior to the annual Golden Gloves awards ceremony, the shortstop for the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) spoke about his recent meeting with the Toronto Blue Jays starter Ryu Hyun-jin.
"He gave me a lot of advice," Kim said in a pre-ceremony interview streamed on Instagram. "He helped me feel more confident about my chances of making it in the majors."
Kim, a 25-year-old slugging shortstop, was posted for Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs last week. Any interested club can try to work out a deal with Kim within a 30-day negotiating period, which began at 8 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Dec. 2 and will end at 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 1.
Ryu disclosed after another awards ceremony earlier this week that he'd recently met with Kim. Without divulging too much, Ryu said it'd be great to be playing with Kim in the majors.
Kim echoed that sentiment Friday.
"It'd be a huge honor to play with Ryu Hyun-jin," Kim said. "I think it would also make my transition (to the majors) easier."
Their meeting fueled speculation that the Blue Jays were in on Kim and Ryu was trying to recruit the shortstop on the club's behalf, though it turned out that Kim reached out to Ryu first.
Ryu is a well-respected veteran among KBO stars who hope to follow in his footsteps to reach the big leagues. The 33-year-old left-hander is the first player to jump directly from the KBO to the majors via posting.
Kim enjoyed a highly productive 2020 season, batting .306/.397/.523 with a career-high 30 home runs, 109 RBIs, 111 runs scored and 23 steals. He drew more walks (75) than he struck out (68) for the first time in his career. An athletic fielder with a strong arm, Kim can play both shortstop and third base.
Later Friday, Kim picked up his third straight Golden Glove at shortstop, earning 277 out of 342 votes from baseball writers, broadcasters and TV color commentators.
"When I got my first Golden Glove (in 2018), I said I wanted to keep winning it," he said. "I am grateful that I've won my third straight today."
Blue Jays' assistant general manager Joe Sheehan recently said of Kim, "The performance in the KBO has been quite strong. And just looking at players that have come over, he fits into that infield market really well."
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