Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Notes on Jae-Kuk Ryu

A few notes I gathered on Ryu:

* Korean who signed with the Cubs out of high school for 1.6m, 2001
* Has been a starter for his minor league career. Now 6.3/225.
* 2003: pilloried/demoted for killing a bird.
* missed most of 2004 due to elbow tenderness (12ip)after he was moved to the bullpen, messing up his mechanics (5g/7ip); missed part of AFL due to back soreness (19ip)- so 31ip in 2004. Not sure why he was move to bullpen.
* rebounded in 2005 (21.8yo) with 170 AA innings, following that up with 140 AAA innings in 2006 (22.8yo) while pitching 15innings over the course of his ML debut out of the pen. Touching 94 regularly 01-03, but lost a few tics after 2004, now sitting 90-92 but with better command.
* acquired by TB for the 2007 season and pitched 14g/72ip in AAA and 23 ML innings out of the pen (April, May, last week of July, no Sept callup apparently). Didn't pitch horribly out of the pen for a young 2nd year guy who earned the job out of ST. In April and May: 5.05era/21g/21.1ip/25h/1hr/9bb/11so. As a sinkerballer, his 1:1 gb/ao rate suggests that he struggled keeping the ball down (moreso in May) or that his sinker lost some effectiveness or both. It should also be noted that he wasn't getting regular work which can be a detriment to sinker guys (just ask Mendoza).
* Still with TB for 2008 but shut down in May with elbow soreness and had a minor scope in june or July. Out for the rest of the year having made 5gs/25ip in AAA with 1 big league bullpen inning. 26ip for 2008.
* Weirdness in 2009. Claimed off of waivers during ST from TB by SD but had that claim denied by MLB. Returned to TB, put on waivers or released again by TB after a terrible ST (10.61era/11er/9ip/8g), and claimed/signed by Cleveland. However he failed his physical and was out of the league in 2009. Not sure if he played in another international league during that time or not.

Scouting report:
*a/o 2006: sinking FB sits 90-92, rarely flashes 94; AA straight changeup and splitter; ave slurve/curveball
* plus action on his sinker and splitter, with top spin that gives them sharp sink
*solid command, good groundball rate
*Out of the ML bullpen, it isn't clear that he is still throwing his splitter (and with elbow issues, probably not) and his velo range appears to have dipped even farther sitting, 88-90.

Given that he was out in 2009, rehabbing I guess, I imagine that TX signed off on his elbow and may have seen shades of the Ryu of old in some private/public workouts/tryouts, perhaps with a tic better velo now that he is healthy. Maybe he has even brought back his splitter. The big question is: can Ryu be effective out of the pen or is he now just a 4A starter? It is probably a long shot that he has something to contribute to a ML bullpen, but TX may have seen something they liked that made them think it feasible so he is one to keep an eye on in ST. Or, another possibility, it could be that TX actually sees him as a possible ML 5th starter type that would be good to have in AAA in case we trade away some of our SP depth in the upper minors. As a final note, the Pacific Rim scouting staff might have had a hand in scouting evaluating him/his elbow and coming through with a signing if Ryu was in fact in Korea during 2009.

Here are some old scouting reports:
Cubs Hub January 2006
Cubs Hub March 2006


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