South Korea announced its roster for the final Olympic qualifier in Taiwan, which begins on Friday.
The roster includes 20-year-old lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who in 2006 became the first player in Korea Baseball Organization history to win the league’s rookie of the year award and be the MVP in the same season. Ryu also won a gold glove that year, finishing with 204 strikeouts in 201 2/3 innings and a 2.23 ERA for the Hanwha Eagles. Last year, Ryu led the KBO with 178 strikeouts and had a 2.94 ERA in 211 innings.
Former major league righthander Sun-Woo Kim, who pitched in the Giants’ system last year at Triple-A Fresno, will pitch for South Korea. Kim, who signed with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization earlier this year, had a 4.87 ERA in 118 1/3 innings last year. Kim last pitched in the majors in 2006, appearing in six games for the Rockies and two more for the Reds.
The roster also features a pair of power-hitting first basemen, Seung-yeop Lee and Dae-ho Lee. Seung-yup Lee, 31, plays for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Lee was in spring training with the Cubs back in 2002 and with the Marlins in 2003, but never signed a major league contract. Instead, Lee went on to set the single-season home run mark for an Asian professional league with 56 home runs in the KBO in 2003. Lee had previously set the KBO single-season home run record in 1999 with 54 homers, and collected five MVP awards in the KBO before moving to Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2004. Lee was a key member of South Korea’s 2006 World Baseball Classic team, hitting five home runs in the team’s first six games en route to a 6-0 start.
Dae-ho Lee, 25, is an imposing 6-foot-3, 265 pounds and won the KBO Triple Crown in 2006, hitting .336 with 26 homers and 88 RBIs, and capped it off by winning a gold glove. Lee led the KBO in slugging last year, batting .335/.453/.600 with 29 home runs and won his second straight gold glove.
Also on the roster is Dong-joo Kim, who won the KBO gold glove at third base in 2007, hit .332/.457/.534 with 19 home runs last year for the Doosan Bears and led the KBO in on-base percentage.
Australia, Canada, Germany Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan are the other teams that will compete at the qualifier, a round-robin tournament fromin which the top three teams will advance to the 2008 Beijing Games in August. The United States, Cuba, China, Japan and the Netherlands have already qualified for the Olympics.