As snow flew down on a cold January afternoon, 18-year-old Korean pitching phenom Jun-Seok Shim was soaking in the atmosphere at PNC Park following his introductory press conference as the top ten prospect signs with Pittsburgh. For the Pirates, this is an incredible signing, and a dream come true for Shim.
The Pirates have been busy through the international signing period, acquiring 22 prospects from eight different countries, with Shim and 17-year old outfielder Raymond Mola both being ranked in the top 26 of all overseas prospects. Shim was ranked 10th and was the number two overall pitcher in the class.
Scout Jong Hoon Na served as the translator for Shim’s press conference, and made it very clear that the Pirates’ organization has been very interested in Shim for quite some time. Pirates Director of Player Personnel Max Kwan had this to say about the young pitcher.
“As our relationship grew with Jun-Seok and his family, it became very evident on the caliber of person and competitor we are bringing into the organization.”
Shim was on the radar of major league teams back in 2020, as he posted a 1.42 ERA with 32 strikeouts at Duksoo High School in Seoul, South Korea. 2021 would be one where Shim was sidelined with an elbow injury, but through 14 innings did not allow an earned run. Last year Shim suffered from a lower back injury and a lack of control on the ball, often walking and hitting batters. The Pirates were able to see through those issues and saw someone that they believe could be a star with more development.
Shim would have undoubtedly been a top pick in the KBO draft, but made it very clearly that he was very excited to make the jump to the MLB and the United States.
“It’s been my dream to play in the (United) States,” Shim said. “I wanted to pursue my dream to come here and play baseball.”
Scouts were impressed with a fastball that can touch triple digits, and a mesmerizing curveball that should give opposing batters some issues. Additionally, personnel were surprised by his composure and the ability to keep a calm demeanor in the big moments that he has faced so far in his career.
While the official terms of his contract are not yet known Shim will be starting out at the Dominican Republic training academy before move onto Bradenton Florida in the summer. It may be a long way to Pittsburgh, but Jun-Seok Shim has already taken one huge step in his professional baseball career.