Suk-min Yoon

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Suk-min Yoon (윤석민)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Suk-min Yoon has been a reliever and starter for the KIA Tigers and has pitched for the South Korean national team, including in the Olympics. He won KBO MVP honors in 2011.

Yoon signed with the KIA Tigers after high school. He debuted in 2005, going 3-4 with 7 saves and a 4.29 ERA in 53 games. In 2006, he pitched in 63 contests, going 5-6 with 19 saves and an ERA of 2.28. He was with South Korea for the 2006 Asian Games. He fell to 7-18, 3.78 in 2007 after becoming a starting pitcher. Yoon began 2008 with a blast, going 12-4 with a 2.47 ERA through July 31, leading the league in wins at that point. That earned him a late slot on the Korean team for the 2008 Olympics, replacing Tae-hoon Lim. Yoon won the opening game for South Korea, relieving Ki-joo Han with a 6-5 lead in the 9th, two on and none out. He retired John Gall and Jayson Nix. Matthew Brown hit a 2-run single at that point and it looked as if Yoon would have both a blown save and the loss. South Korea rallied to win and Yoon got the win over Team USA. He gave up a 2-run homer to Takahiro Arai but got the decision in a 5-3 win against the Japanese national team. He then got a save against Taiwan in a 9-8 victory and pitched okay in no-decision relief in wins over Japan and Cuba. Overall, Yoon was 2-0 with a save and a 2.35 ERA in 5 games and had a win or save in more games than any other Korean hurler as the team won Gold. He tied Hyun-jin Ryu, Norge Vera, Hideaki Wakui and Jonder Martínez for the most wins in Beijing.

Yoon led the 2008 KBO with a 2.33 ERA to deprive Kwang-hyun Kim of a pitching Triple Crown; Kim was .06 behind in ERA while leading in wins and strikeouts. 3 of 94 voters picked for Yoon as the KBO MVP, placing him 5th.

Yoon went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, with only one walk and 13 strikeouts in 16 innings. He tied Jung-keun Bong, Yu Darvish, Félix Hernández, Javier Vázquez and Norge Vera for second in wins, one behind Daisuke Matsuzaka. He tied Hyun-wook Jong and Matsuzaka for third in strikeouts behind Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma. He tossed a 2-hit shutout of the Chinese national team in South Korea's first game. He provided solid relief in wins over Mexico and Japan. In the semifinals, he got the start against Venezuela and allowed 2 runs in 7 1/3 IP in the win.

Yoon was 9-4 with 7 saves and a 3.16 ERA in 2009 despite missing six weeks with a shoulder injury. Had he qualified, he would have ranked 6th in the league in ERA He returned to action in time for game 2 of the 2009 Korean Series, tossing 7 shutout innings to lead KIA past the SK Wyverns. In game six, he had a chance to clinch it for SK, but was outdueled by Eun-beom Song. KIA wound up winning in 7 games. He was not back to form in 2010, going 6-3 with 3 saves and a 3.83 ERA. He still pitched for South Korea in the 2010 Asian Games. In the Gold Medal game, he shut out Taiwan for the final five innings after relieving Hyun-jin Ryu to give Korea first place.

Yoon won the pitching Triple Crown in the 2011 KBO, going 17-5 with a save, 2.45 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings. He allowed a .223 opponent average. He was .68 ahead of ERA runner-up and former major leaguer Sun-woo Kim, one win ahead of Sun-woo Kim and 28 strikeouts ahead of Ben Jukich and Dustin Nippert (another former big leaguer). Yoon was listed as one of four finalists for the 2011 KBO MVP, alongside 47-save closer Seung-hwan Oh, home run and RBI leader Hyung-woo Choi and batting champion and OBP leader Dae-ho Lee (who also hit 27 home runs). Oh withdrew his name from consideration in favor of teammate Choi, but Yoon won handily. He got 62 of 91 votes, compared to 19 for Oh, only 8 for Choi and 2 for Lee. He was the second KIA player to be named MVP, following Sang-hyeon Kim by two years. It was also announced in November 2011 that he and Hyun-jin Ryu had signed with agent Scott Boras. Yoon expressed interest in playing in the majors one day, although he returned for two more seasons with KIA. In 2013, an injury forced him to spend the year in the bullpen, where his record was 3-6, 4.00 with seven saves.

Yoon decided to make the jump to America before the 2014 season. There was some concerned about his health, given his troubles in 2013, but on February 17th, he inked a three-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles for $5.75 million. The deal had been rumored for a while, but the O's held back from announcing it until the Korean hurler could pass a physical exam.

With a three-quarters delivery Yoon throws a fastball in 90-92 mph (tops out at 96 mph), change-up, occasional curveball, and a hard-breaking, mid-80s slider.


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