The Yankees’ 2014 International signing haul – praised by Yankees faithful, but decried by others – brought the club a haul of shortstops.
South Korean Hoy Jung Park, our No. 18 prospect who was signed for $1.1 million, was one of them. He made his debut for Pulaski, the Yankees Appalachian League Rookie-Level affiliate this past summer.
And his manager, Tony Franklin, was highly impressed.
“Park really came a long way during the season,’’ said Franklin. “The athletic ability was certainly there to start, but the way he made adjustments to playing in the United States was impressive.
“He makes all the plays. He’s going to have a good career.’’
Park batted .239 (53-for-222), but contributed several key hits as a 19-year-old in his first season playing far from home in a different environment. He contributed five homers and 30 RBIs in 56 games as Franklin piloted his team to an Appalachian League-best 45-23, a division title and playoff berth.
In the field Park committed 14 errors in 54 starts, certainly acceptable for a first-year player in the Appalachian League.
Much like fellow touted International signee Wilkerman Garcia, Park is an athletic, toolsy player who has power potential. The competition between those two, and among several others, will be intense.
It will be interesting to see where the Yankees place Park on 2016. Will they have him at Staten Island, or will they be aggressive and push him to Charleston with Thairo Estrada?
“With all these shortstops, it will be interesting to see where they all land,’’ said Franklin. “Our job with these young players is to help them adapt and improve.’’
The Yankees indeed wanted an experienced hand in Pulaski for players such as Park. Franklin is a master at molding a unified clubhouse and a winning team. He won three championships in eight years at Double-A Trenton and did the same at Pulaski.
Will Park show enough over the next few seasons to establish himself among Yankees top shortstop prospects with Jorge Mateo, Tyler Wade, Kyle Holder, Aviatal Avelino, Garcia and others? Not all of the aforementioned will play with the Yankees.
“Some of these guys are just so young,’’ said Franklin. “Which way things will go with all of them will be really fun to see. The (Yankees) system is really building a lot of depth.’’
If Park establishes himself in full-season baseball, he’ll be right with his Yankees shortstop rivals.