“We are excited to welcome Hyun-Jin Ryu to Los Angeles and the United States, continuing the tradition of Korean pitchers with the Dodger organization,” said Colletti. “The Dodgers continue to show the commitment to signing players from Asia and other international areas where baseball is played at the highest levels. We are looking forward to watching Ryu pitch for the franchise.”
Ryu, whose name is pronounced He-YUN Jin Ree-YOO, has gone 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA in 190 career games with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. The 25-year-old was selected as a KBO All-Star in all seven of his professional seasons from 2006-12 and won the KBO strikeout title five times (2006-07, 2009-10, 2012), while holding the circuit’s single-game strikeout record (17 set on May 11, 2010) and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning with 1,238 Ks and only 383 walks in 1269.0 frames. After winning the pitching triple crown by having the league’s lowest ERA (2.23), most strikeouts (204) and highest win total (18) in 2006, he became the first and only Korean player to be named rookie of the year and player of the year in the same season. Ryu added a second ERA title in 2010 (1.82), when he also won the second of his two KBO Gold Glove Awards (also: 2006).
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder went 9-9 and ranked fifth in the league with a 2.66 ERA in 27 games. He limited opponents to a .232 batting average and led the league with a career-high 210 strikeouts, 66 more than any other KBO hurler.
Ryu has made 14 appearances at the international level, winning a gold medal as a member of the South Korean team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and earning a silver medal pitching for Team Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the Olympic competition, he went 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA and tossed a five-hit shutout in a win over Canada during pool play. In the WBC, the left-hander went 1-0 record with a 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP) in five games (two starts), including two scoreless relief appearances at Dodger Stadium in the semifinals against Venezuela and the championship against Japan.
When he makes his Dodger debut, Ryu will become just the 14th South Korea native to play in the Majors and the fourth to play for the Dodgers behind Hee-Seop Choi (2004-2005), Jae Seo (2006) and Chan Ho Park (1994-2001, 2008), who was the first Korean to play in the Majors when he made his debut in 1994. Park went 84-58 in 275 games (181 starts) in nine seasons with Los Angeles and pitched in 17 big league seasons with the Dodgers, Rangers, Padres, Mets, Phillies, Yankees and Pirates from 1994-2010. He earned an All-Star selection in 2001, when he finished third in the NL with a career-high 218 strikeouts.
"Congratulations to the Dodgers and Ryu on this great signing,” said Park. “I'm excited to see him carry on the tradition of great international pitchers in Dodger blue and have Ryu represent Korean baseball in the United States."
The Dodgers have a long history with the development of Korean baseball dating to 1981, when Tommy Lasorda hosted clinics and lectures in Korea with Japanese pitcher Senichi Hoshino. The relationship continued in 1990, when the club hosted team presidents from the Korean Baseball Professional League for a baseball workshop and seminar and the club became the first Major League team to have a game broadcast in the Korean language on Sept. 9 of that year. On several occasions the Dodgers have hosted Korean baseball teams during Spring Training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL, doing so with the Hanyang University team in 1995 and in 2000 with the LG Twins of the KBO following the clubs’ working agreement, signed in 1999. Most recently, Korean fans flocked to a sold out Dodger Stadium and created an electric atmosphere in support of their team during the finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.