by Ben Badler/Baseball America
Oakland added one of the top amateurs from both Venezuela (third baseman Renato Nunez) and the Dominican Republic (center fielder Vicmal de la Cruz) in 2010.
Now the Athletics have started 2011 by bringing aboard one of the top prospects from South Korea, signing 17-year-old catcher Seong-Min Kim for $510,000 out of Yatap High.
A righthanded hitter, Kim is a strong, thick-bodied frame listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, though scouts from other organizations said he might be an inch or so bigger and a bit heavier. A’s Pacific Rim scout Adam Hislop and South Korea scout Lewis Kim followed Kim since he was 16, according to Dan Kantrovitz, the A’s coordinator of international operations.
“Offensively, we think he can become a plus power guy,” Kantrovitz said. “As with any young player, he’s gonna need to make some adjustments to his approach and how quickly his power plays will be a function of how quickly he makes those mechanical adjustments. But, no question, the raw power, and flashes of game power, is there and is exciting.”
Scouts from other organizations said Kim is athletic, has a plus arm and can control the running game, though they were mixed on his ability to stick at catcher. He was a first baseman and a DH as a sophomore, so his receiving skills and technique still need to catch up to his tools.
“Defensively, he has plenty of transfer quickness and arm strength to control a running game—he flashed 1.95’s (in his home-to-second pop times) for Adam, Lewis and I just last week,” Kantrovitz said. “Granted, he has some work to do at the position, but he shows instincts that would never make you think he converted to catcher just last year, his junior year in high school. Having said that, his catching skills have come a long way in the past year and with his athleticism, aptitude and work ethic, I see no reason they won’t continue to improve.”
Kantrovitz said Kim will likely play in Australia this summer and possibly head to Arizona for instructional league in the fall, with a chance to return for spring training next year.