A South Korean pitcher set a new national record for strikeouts in a high school game.
On Sunday, 17-year-old Korean lefthander Su-Min Lee struck out 26 batters over 10 innings for Daegu Sangwon High in a 2-1 complete-game victory, making national news in South Korea. Lee threw 168 pitches, walked three and allowed three hits.
Lee is a senior and scouts project him as more of a solid arm in the Korean Baseball Organization (the top pro league in South Korea) than a major league prospect. Lee has a heavy-bodied 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame with a mid-80s fastball that peaks at 87 mph. While he doesn’t have a ton of projection, he throws strikes and keeps hitters off balance with a changeup, slider and curveball, with scouts split on whether his changeup or his slider is his best pitch. Lee also has a funky delivery that makes it hard for hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand.
Lee pitched for the South Korean junior national team last year in September at the 18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. He allowed six runs in 18 innings for a 3.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four walks. Lee led South Korea to an 8-2 victory over Team USA in a solid start in which he allowed two runs over five innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
Lee attends the same high school where lefthander Seong-Min Kim went last year. The Orioles had signed Kim in 2012 for a $575,000 bonus that was widely regarded in the international scouting community as inflated well beyond his talent level, but Major League Baseball squashed that deal after the Orioles violated the protocol agreement between MLB and the KBO by not performing a status check on Kim.
The single-game record for strikeouts by a high school pitcher in the United States was set in 2004 by righthander Joe Labek, who struck out 40 batters over 24 innings for Ridgewood High of Illinois in a game split over two days a week apart. Labek’s team still lost 2-1.