Texas Rangers Spring Training: We’re not talking enough about Hyeon-jong Yang
By Seth Carlson
No one really knew what to expect when the Texas Rangers signed South Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang to a minor-league deal this winter with an invite to spring training.
The 33-year-old southpaw, who had spent his entire professional baseball career in the KBO prior to arriving in Surprise and finishing his tenure there with a 3.83 ERA over 14 seasons, was something of a unknown going into camp.
Establishing yourself in MLB after a career spent entirely overseas can be a daunting task, (just ask Yang’s teammate and Japanese righty Kohei Arihara, who struggled out of the gate during camp) but Yang has handled the transition to this point with poise and results.
Hyeon-jong Yang is quietly making a name for himself at Texas Rangers spring training.
In three spring appearances thus far, the former KBO league MVP has a 3.00 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, eight strikeouts and a save in six innings pitched.
It’s important to recognize that these are small sample sizes when evaluating Yang’s chops over the long haul, but it’s clear (at least for now) that the lefty is enjoying a smooth transition over to the big leagues.
Yang did struggle initially with adjusting to the more slippery grip of an American baseball, which led to some early command issues and a home run surrendered in his first spring outing, but he’s been shut-down good since then.
The 33-year-old will never overpower hitters with sheer velocity, topping out in the high 80s or low 90s with his fastball, but he possesses a repertoire of breaking pitches, including a curveball which he controls well.
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He’s obviously throwing hitters off-balance with his stuff given that he has more strikeouts than innings pitched in spring training.
Perhaps the unknown factor is driving some of Yang’s early success, but nevertheless, he’s proving his worth.
Yang has also made it clear he’d like to start in the big leagues, a major reason why he chose to sign with the Texas Rangers, who have starting roles available.
With so much uncertainty around the back-end of the Rangers’ rotation and with the way Yang is throwing this spring, there is a distinct possibility that the soft-tossing southpaw will get his wish.
Therefore, it’s time we start talking more about Hyeon-jong Yang and the feasibility of his rotation bid, as well as his being a contributor to the Texas Rangers in some capacity in 2021.