Skip to content
Woo-seok Ko, 25, is headed to the major leagues. He signed a two-year, $4.5 million guaranteed contract with the San Diego Padres.
His contract includes a variety of performance-based bonuses.
He’ll receive a bonus for every inning he pitches, including starts, and his salary will increase the following year.
If he fulfills his mutual option in 2026, he could earn up to $9.4 million.
It’s a very complicated contract that’s rarely seen in the major leagues.
San Diego was the team that saw the most potential in Ko.
The inclusion of a bonus for each inning pitched suggests that he could be a closer in the future.
However, the team also has a safety valve that lowers the guaranteed contract but adds a lot of options.
This means he’s a bit of a wait-and-see for now.
Go is one of the best closers in the KBO. His 138 saves since 2019 are the most in the league.
His 5-year ERA of 2.39 is also the best over 200 innings.
He struggled a bit with injuries last season (15 saves in 44 games with a 3.68 ERA), but his status as one of the league’s best closers hasn’t changed.
Go’s competitive edge is his velocity.
His average fastball velocity was 152.5 kilometers per hour last season.
This is in line with the average fastball velocity of major league bullpen pitchers last season.
In fact, San Diego’s bullpen did not fare as well on fastballs.
Their average fastball velocity was 151.1 mph, the third slowest in the majors.
Their batting average was also poor at .251.
Since the team had a weakness for fastballs, they brought in Go Woo-seok, who has a strong fastball.
However, fastball velocity alone is not enough to survive in the major leagues.
His fastball velocity is at a major league level, but it’s not enough to overwhelm hitters.
Baseball America, a prospect outlet that looked at him before he signed, said, “He has the power to get hitters out, but he’ll need other pitches to make the jump to the next level.”
Go has a cutter, slider, and curveball.
While his cutter and slider have been his go-to pitches in the KBO, major league scouts value his curveball. 온라인카지노
A downward curveball can easily create a high-low effect with a fastball that targets the high side of the plate.
Go Woo-seok, whose strength is his fastball, also needs a downward pitch.
The challenge, then, is to refine the delivery of the curveball, which was unstable in the KBO.
If his curveball improves in the majors, it will add to the power of his fastball.
Cutters and sliders should also be on the radar. San Diego coaches can make a difference.
San Diego pitching coach Ruben Niebla, 52, is a man who excels in development and conditioning.
Last year, National League Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Blake Snell, 31, cited Niebla as one of his primary contributors to the award.
Niebla is credited with giving Snell the confidence to not get intimidated by strikeouts.
The Niebla Magic doesn’t rely on name recognition.
There are other pitchers who have benefited from Snell’s work.
Steven Wilson, 29, in 2022, and Tom Cosgrove, 27, in 2023, burst onto the scene and were huge additions to the bullpen.
They came from obscurity to the major leagues with the help of San Diego coaches.
Go Woo-seok, too, can be expected to improve with the help of the San Diego coaches.
San Diego lost closer Josh Hader, 29, to the team.
They don’t have an immediate closer.
Robert Suarez (32), Yuki Matsui (28), and Woo-seok Ko have been mentioned as possible candidates. Suarez, who has major league experience, is the favorite.
However, manager Mike Shields (55) has signaled that he will operate with a group closer system.
This will put the candidates to the test starting in spring training.
Ko’s major league challenge begins.
The process hasn’t been easy, and the immediate competition is daunting, but Ko has chosen to go for it.
Some might call it “reckless,” but that’s what makes dreams come true.
We hope that Go Woo-seok’s courageous decision will lead to a result that everyone will applaud.