Posted August. 11, 2017 08:14,
Updated August. 11, 2017 09:14
Eric Thames, the Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger who spent three years in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) league, is displaying his skills developed i
n Korea from the first year of his return to the United States. Hitting .244 with 25 home runs and 47 runs batted in (RBIs), he is leading the team’s offensive. Thames, who signed a three-year, 16-million-dollar contract with the Brewers has proved to be a bargain.
Saying in an interview with the Sporting News that he still misses Korea, Thames cited four KBO players who could play in the Major League Baseball – outfielder Na Seong-beom of the NC Dinos, infielder Choi Jeong and pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns, and outfielder Son Ah-seop of the Lotte Giants.
Speaking of former NC Dinos teammate Na, Thames said, “I felt like he was ready three or four years ago. He has the talent, arm strength, bat speed and foot speed.” As of Wednesday, Na was hitting .374 with 18 home runs, 69 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. He is projected to be eligible for posting after the 2019 season. The Sporting News assessed Na to have the greatest potential among the four.
Thames referred to Choi Jeong as “the home run guy,” saying, “I feel like he has a great talent. He can come over here and play.” Choi shared the home run king spot with Thames in the KBO league last year with 40 homers, and has already sent 38 balls over the fence. After the 2018 season, Choi will qualify for free agent for the second time.
Son Ah-seop will probably be the most thankful for Thames’ recommendation. Having failed to garner a bid in his appeal to MLB clubs in 2015, Son will become a free agent after this season is over. “I feel like he has the bat speed and the athleticism to do pretty well over here,” Thames said. Son is hitting .340 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs.
Referring to Kim Kwang-hyun, who is in rehabilitation from an elbow surgery, Thames noted, “Hard-throwing lefties are always a premium in the big leagues.” However, the Sporting News projected that Kim is less likely to be a target for MLB clubs considering his injuries and age.