Jung-hoo Lee is arguably the best position player prospect to come out of the Korean Baseball Organization. However, there may be question marks beyond his ability to adjust to the majors.
On Monday, Jeeho Yoo from Yonhap News reported that Lee will undergo surgery on his ankle. The expected three month recovery time, coupled with the fact that there are only two months left in the KBO season, means that his season is over.
Jung-hoo Lee needed final two months to impress
Lee had been one of the most impressive players in the KBO. The defending MVP, he has rewritten the record books as he has established himself as one of the greatest hitters that the league has seen. His combination of power, plate discipline, and contact ability made him an intriguing option, especially as the upcoming free agent class may be weaker for position players. As Lee is set to be posted, he was expected to generate plenty of interest.
Now, he could be an even bigger discount. Lee has already been somewhat of a disappointment this season, his .319/.407/.456 batting line with six homers and 23 doubles in 386 plate appearances coming in below his standards. It is fair to note that Lee has still been impressive in the KBO, his performance coming in at a 142 wRC+. He is still far and away one of the best hitters in the league.
There are going to be questions. KBO hitters historically have not done well in the majors. He-Seong Kim is showing that that position players can make an impact but it did take him time to adjust. Lee has the potential to be a star; it is just a matter of being healthy and showing that he can handle major league pitching. Based on his track record, that should not be a problem.
Jung-hoo Lee is going to be one of the biggest wild cards in free agency this offseason. He could also be a tremendous bargain.