Top 50 Prospects: #21 - Seung Song

Seung Song was once the top prospect of the Boston Red Sox, and then the key piece of a trade for Cliff Floyd. So how did he end up released twice in one offseason and trying to rebuild his career with the Giants Organization?

#21 - Seung Song
Date of Birth: 06/29/1980 Position: P Height: 6'1" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in 2005
Originally signed by the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent in 1999
2005 Stats
San Jose - High A 5 2 1.95 9 6 0 37.0 27 11 8 3 17 47 .199 0.85
Norwich - AA 3 2 2.48 6 6 0 36.1 34 10 10 4 7 29 .246 1.03
Fresno - AAA 2 4 4.42 10 10 0 55.0 50 32 27 6 36 37 .244 0.98

Make all the puns on his name you want, Seung Song spent 2005 trying to convince baseball he was still a top prospect. While he didn’t dominate the entire season, he did do enough to remain intriguing.

It should be mentioned right away that Seung Song is not a guarantee to return to the Giants system in 2006. He was signed as a minor league free agent deal in 2005 (more on that in a minute), and while the Giants have indicated an interest in reacquiring him, the indications at the start of the offseason were that Song was planning to shop his services around this offseason. As of this writing (January 17, 2006), Song has not signed and remains a free agent.

Song is an interesting tale of a ballplayer. Signed out of Korea at 19 by the Red Sox, he was one of the Red Sox top prospects until being traded to the Montreal Expos in the Cliff Floyd deal. Song threw a controversial no hitter in AA in 2003, a day after the Giants were no-hit by Kevin Millwood (coincidence?). He stayed with Montreal through 2004, when a freak injury occurred: he broke his right arm sliding into second base during a game in May. Although he returned late in the season and began to return, his numbers weren’t good. He was placed on waivers during the Arizona Fall League, and was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto, ideally, wanted him to compete for the 5th starter job, but Song was not ready for it. The Blue Jays simply released him at the end of spring training in 2005.

So, yes, Song holds the dubious distinction of being perhaps the last ever player to be released by two Canadian teams in one offseason.

It was after this debacle that the Giants picked him up and let him work on rebuilding his arm strength. With no pressure, Song returned to action in High-A San Jose, starting with relief and moving onto starting. After going 5-2 in 9 appearances, he made 6 starts in AA, and was promptly moved back to AAA, where he struggled a little more.

Song’s stuff has changed since his top prospect days. He used to be a power pitcher, with a mid-90’s fastball and a power curve. Upon his return in San Jose, he was throwing high-80’s, occasionally touching 90 but also sometimes sitting in the mid-80’s. His velocity did start to return a little further into the season after promotions, but both his velocity and his control came and went. He also throws a slider and a changeup, but neither are advanced pitches or very trustworthy. What Song has recently added is a splitfinger that has become a solid compliment to his other pitches, though he’ll have to throw it more consistently to use it the same way in AAA and in the majors.

Where Song goes from here is hard to tell, and we’re not just talking about what team signs him. Song is still an intelligent pitcher who should eventually get around the problems his injuries have left him with, but he’s still a risky pitcher who needs to be able to show he can bring good stuff every night. He’s a dark horse candidate to be a major league starter, but his funky windup might play well in relief roles if he can’t get enough control of his other pitches to stick as a starter. The change in delivery could be as effective as a sidearm or submarine pitcher in middle relief roles if he’s not overly exposed. If Song returns to the team that gave him a chance in 2005, he’ll have a spot in the Fresno rotation and will be considered for major league duty if his velocity stops wavering from start to start.

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