Name: Hoy Jun Park
DOB: April 7, 1996
Batting and Power. Park hasn't exactly been known as a high-average hitter to date after sporting just a .230 average through his first two professional seasons and yet the basics are there for him to eventually become a solid hitter for average in due time; plus bat speed, advanced plate patience, solid pitch recognition, and a willingness to use the whole field when he hits. However, not exactly coming from a baseball hotbed in South Korea, Park, who is still trying to bulk up and get physically stronger like his North American counterparts, is still getting accustomed to the harder throwers he has been facing since signing with the Yankees. That extra hard velocity he has been seeing has taken some time to get his timing down and it could mean some lower averages in the short-term while he gains more experience against harder throwers. Aiding his better hitting cause would be a bit more plate discipline; not looking to yank pitches down the line as much, not swinging as much earlier in an attempt to 'cheat' against harder throwers, not taking as many good pitches earlier in counts merely in the name of drawing walks, etc. There are the makings of a solid hitter but patience is required from Park and analysts alike, especially as he continues to learn to be a bit more aggressive while still maintaining his patience. He shows at least average long-term power potential given his quick-twitch swing, especially to the pull side.
Base Running and Speed. We mentioned a year ago that Park's lowly 63 percent stolen base success rate in his debut season in 2015 was not very reflective of either his natural running speed or his base running acumen, that it was more of an aberration with him being a foreigner playing in a strange land that didn't allow him to completely come out of his proverbial shell. An above average to borderline plus runner, that began to happen last year, swiping 32 bases with a 91 percent success rate. An above average station to station runner with plus potential once he limits his in-game mistakes, as he continues to get more comfortable with his surroundings and a little more confident with each passing year the stolen base totals could rise even more. He easily has the potential to be a 30-plus stolen base threat each year [if not more], especially given his ability to get on base consistently.
Defense. Park is a bit underrated defensively at shortstop and it's mostly because he's simply not as physical as some of his peers. The fact is though he is just about above average tools-wise defensively; [a tick] above average arm strength, above average range, above average athleticism, very reliable hands, etc. However, some shortstops are rangier and others have better arms, and that allows Park to fly a bit under the radar in comparison. He still has difference-making abilities defensively at shortstop though and he has even made a rather seamless transition to second base too when moved over there at times where his arm strength plays to a plus level at that position. More than reliable is the best phrase to describe Park defensively at either middle infield position.
Projection. A true 'plug and play' defensive player at either middle infield position, one with above average or better speed, the kind of speed that could be useful in centerfield if need be too, with advanced plate patience, and one who hits from the left side, Park, still just 20 years old, has all the earmarks of an eventual big league reserve player at minimum. However, while that remains his floor, there is still a considerable ceiling left to be tapped, especially with the bat. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing a conservative 180 pounds, Park still has a ton of room to fill out physically and gain strength in the coming years, and that could either solidify his average power potential or tick it up a notch long-term. Should he be able to do that and eventually find the correct batting balance between being aggressive and patient, cut down on the strikeouts and become the solid hitter many believe he has the chance to be, with his plus small-ball skills it would be unwise to ignore his big league starting potential. There's an Erick Aybar [who incidentally was also signed by Donny Rowland] whole-game quality to him [with perhaps a shade more power] that can't be overlooked.
ETA. 2019. Park could use a little more refining with the bat but he can and will most likely do that at the high-A level with the Tampa Yankees. More of a one level per season type of player that this point, expect him to be a mainstay in the Florida State League this upcoming season.