Tuesday Dish: The Rangers’ Korean Surprise
Posted Jun. 30, 2009 12:27 pm by Jim Shonerd
Filed under: Daily Dish
The low Class A Hickory Crawdads have a pitching staff featuring plenty of international talent, including the Venezuelan trio of lefthander Martin Perez and righties Wilmer Font and Wilfredo Boscan. While that group offers plenty to get excited about, another, much less heralded pitcher on the Crawdads’ staff has one of its best.
"The biggest surprise for us has been Yoon-He Nam, the Korean kid," Hickory pitching coach Brad Holman said.
The Rangers signed the lefthander Nam as an 18-year-old out of Korea in 2006. After two years in short-season leagues, the now 21-year-old Nam is getting his first look at full-season ball and has shown he’s up to the task. Nam has worked primarily out of the Hickory bullpen, making 19 appearances and four starts, yet he’s piled up a 7-1, 1.73 record and has won his last six decisions going back to April 29.
Nam doesn’t offer overpowering velocity, but he’s shown an ability to miss bats as he’s piled up 57 strikeouts in 52 innings while allowing only 30 hits and a .165 average against.
"He’s unbelievable," Holman said. "He throws four pitches—fastball, curveballl, slider, changeup. He commands them all. He disrupts timing."
Nam was utterly dominant during a nearly two-month stretch from April 25 through June 13. During that span, Nam allowed only two runs and 11 hits over 36 innings and 11 appearances. He also put together a 38-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That success landed Nam a spot in the South Atlantic League All-Star game.
All of this is coming after Nam put together two solid, if unspectacular seasons in short-season leagues. He made his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2007 and went 4-1, 3.62 in 32 innings, all in relief. After moving up to the short-season Northwest League last year, Nam posted a similar season, going 2-0, 4.20. Those numbers didn’t put him on the radar, but his success this season has.
"His velocity’s not through the roof or anything like that," Holman said. "But he commands the baseball and knows how to pitch."