Each year, dozens of teenagers are selected in the MLB Entry Draft directly out of high school. Many forego college experience to sign a professional contract and begin competing right away.
A large number of those players — the majority, in fact — never reach the major leagues. Traditionally, that inflection point of failure, the moment when a player is finally released from a minor league contract, is a sign of the coming end. For one Korean prospect who came to the United States at the age most Americans are finishing up high school, the moment he was released from a minor league commitment proved to be the same when he began a route toward a professional return in his own country.
Now Houston Astros prospect Moon Chan-jong is trying out for the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) at the league’s open call for eligible players.
And, as reported by Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, there’s a track for him to follow to KBO success after fellow MiLB flame outs, Rhee Dae-eun and Lee Hak-ju, who played in the Cubs organization, were taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the KBO Draft in September.
Since leaving Minor League Baseball in the states, Moon has been fulfilling his mandatory Korean military service. Now that he’s finishing his national commitment — he’ll be released in September — the versatile infielder is ready to return to baseball in a country where he has stayed away from the sport since high school. Now, with confidence gleaned from friend and Tampa Bay Rays infielder Choi Ji-man, Moon is convinced he’s ready to break through, free from the pressure of being a prized post scholastic teenage prospect.
“There’s so much I can show people on the field,” Moon told Yonhap. “I didn’t make it in the majors like Ji-man did. Now, I’d like to become a player who can help a team in the KBO.”