Yoon Suk-min hammered in Triple-A debut

April 9, 2014
Yoon Suk-min got off to a tough start in Triple-A.

Yoon Suk-min got off to a tough start in Triple-A.

By Kim Tong-hyung

In his first real audition for a job in Major League Baseball (MLB), Yoon Suk-min delivered perhaps his worst performance as a pro.

Making his first start for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, Yoon, who signed a three-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles in February, allowed nine runs over 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings against Gwinnett of the Atlanta Braves organization. Norfolk lost the game 10-5.

The Korean right-hander got off to a bright start, getting his first two batters on grounders to first and second. But he then gave up a single to Joey Terdoslavich, who scored on a two-run home run from the next batter Ernesto Mejia.

Philip Gosselin followed with a double, but Yoon ended the inning by getting Edward Salcedo on a fly to right.

Gwinnett continued to hammer Yoon in the top of the second, driving in two runs on a double by Jose Constanza and an infield hit by Todd Cunningham.

Yoon was yanked in the third, but not before giving up five consecutive hits that scored three runs for Gwinnett, which effectively put the game away.

The last time Yoon gave up more nine runs or more in professional competition was on Sept. 5, 2009, when, as a starter for the Kia Tigers, he gave up 10 runs over 3-plus innings in a loss against the Doosan Bears.

Yoon, who won the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) MVP award in 2011 as a starter for the Kia Tigers, has vowed to duplicate the major league success of compatriot Ryu Hyun-jin, who went 14-8 in his first year with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He will have to pitch better in his future outings for Norfolk to persuade Orioles manager Buck Showalter to call him up.

In his nine years with the Tigers, Yoon won 73 games and lost 59 with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.19, establishing himself as one of the best Korean pitchers of his generation. His 2011 season is considered one of the best for a pitcher in KBO history, when he led the league with 17 wins, 178 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA to accomplish a rare pitching ”triple crown.’’

In his prime, Yoon displayed a dual ability to miss bats or induce groundballs, which had many scouts projecting a solid career for the pitcher in the U.S. But it is uncertain whether the Orioles are getting a player close to his prime.

Yoon endured a tough season in 2013 after sustaining an injury during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. He made his season debut in May, coming out of the bullpen, but managed only 87 innings and his ERA soared over 4.00.

Some observers have said that Yoon has lost a few miles on his fastball.