On Monday we learned the Pittsburgh Pirates have won negotiating rights to Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Kang’s Korea Baseball Organization team, the Nexen Heroes, accepted Pittsburgh’s high bid of slightly more than $5 million, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the two sides now will have 30 days to negotiate a deal.

According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Kang is said to be seeking a contract in the three-year, $24 million range.

A lot has been made of Kang this offseason, as the 27-year-old was long expected to pursue a career in Major League Baseball following a career-best season in the KBO. Should he reach the major leagues, he’ll become the first player to make the jump directly from the KBO. On top of that, Kang is set to arrive at a time when there’s a scarcity of impact hitters, let alone shortstops, on the open market.

But is Kang the next great international player, or should expectations be tempered?

Kang posted huge numbers in 2014, his final KBO campaign, hitting .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs, 36 doubles and 117 RBI in 117 games. While it was easily the best season in his career, it wasn’t as though Kang came out of nowhere.

Originally a second-round selection in the 2006 KBO draft, Kang debuted as a 19-year-old but didn’t emerge as an everyday player until 2008.

The 2012 season was when everything seemed to click for Kang, as he raked at a .314 clip over 124 games while contributing 25 home runs and 32 doubles. Kang also demonstrated vastly improved plate discipline by accruing nearly as many walks (71) as strikeouts (78), and, just for good measure, he added a career-high 21 stolen bases.

Kang failed to build off his success the following year, but he still hit .291 in 126 games and showed a promising combination of power and speed with 22 home runs, 21 doubles and 15 stolen bases.

And then, of course, came his monster 2014 season.

However, whether Kang’s robust power and production will translate in the majors next season, provided he works out a deal with the Pirates in the next month, remains up in the air.

Those who have scouted Kang generally seem to agree that the right-handed batter’s power will play in The Show.

From ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required):

…I see a swing that will generate legit plus power even once he leaves his hitter-friendly home park in the Yangcheon District of Seoul. Kang has a huge leg kick and gets his lead foot down late, which could create timing issues, but the swing is rotational, and I don’t think the power surge he has had the past three years is strictly a function of the rising level of offense in the KBO.

Building off Law’s comments, Kang, at 6’0”, 210 pounds, uses an upright setup at the plate that allows him to employ an elongated and distinct load and leg kick, which is relatively common among power hitters from Asian leagues.

More specifically, Kang tries to hold his weight on his backside for as long as possible, which in turn forces him to rush his front-foot timing and prevents him from achieving a favorable point of contact. However, he does appear to maintain good balance throughout his swing and doesn‘t land as violently on his front side as you’d expect.

On top of that, Kang possesses above-average bat speed as well as raw power to all fields, so he should still run into his share of pitches even if he fails to hit for average. In a recent article, Jeff Sullivan of FOX Sports (among other places) offered a similar take about Kang’s power in the major leagues:

On the one hand, we can’t expect Kang‘s power to totally translate to the majors. On the other hand, it’s a legitimate skill of his. Kang appears capable of hitting big-league home runs, with a big swing load and power to the pull side and up the middle. Here are a bunch of video highlights, and while Kang hits some wall-scrapers, he’s also responsible for his share of no-doubters, and he can hit a big-league baseball 400 feet.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kang were to struggle against good velocity in the big leagues; his timing mechanism could make him susceptible to fastballs on the inner half, resulting in a significant amount of swing and miss and weak contact.

On the other side of the ball, Kang, based on video, appears to move well enough at shortstop, showing good athleticism with average range in all directions, and he also plays the position with a sense of creativity that aids him in making difficult plays. Kang’s arm strength is probably a better fit at second base than shortstop, though his smooth transfer and arm stroke allow him to get rid of the ball quickly.

Not everyone views Kang as a big league shortstop, though.

From Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required):

While Kang is a solid offensive player, the consensus in the international scouting community is that he won’t be an everyday payer. He doesn’t have the range to play shortstop in the majors, and scouts also expressed concerns about his ability to make the routine plays. Kang doesn’t have a plus tool, but there’s enough potential at the plate for him to be an offensive-oriented utility player who starts his U.S. career in the majors.

Sullivan believes Pittsburgh’s winning bid for Kang reflects the 27-year-old’s perception across the industry, writing that: “If teams believed he were a starter, the bid would’ve been at least triple this.”

He also acknowledges that some teams simply avoid the “blind risk” involved with international hitters, using Ichiro Suzuki’s first contract with Seattle for three years and $14 million as an example.

All of this is just speculation, obviously. The only real way to gauge Kang’s potential in the big leagues is to have him compete against big leaguers. Unfortunately, that won’t happen until spring training, and that’s only if he and the Pirates work out a deal.

But the fact that clubs bid on Kang in the first place is significant in and of itself, as it’s at least partial confirmation that he’s perceived to have potential in the major leagues.

For the Pirates, finding out what that potential might translate to is a risk worth taking.

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