Orioles Apologize for Breaking Protocol in Signing Korean Player

The Baltimore Orioles apologized for breaking protocol in signing South Korean high school pitcher Kim Seong-min to a minor-league contract, after their scouts were banned from attending games in the Asian nation.

Last month, the Orioles signed the 17-year-old as a free agent in a deal worth $550,000, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The Korea Baseball Organization, the professional league in South Korea, protested that the Orioles failed to initiate a “status check” on the player’s eligibility to sign.

The Major League Baseball club apologized for an “unintentional breach of protocol in failing to tender a status check” in the process of signing Kim, Dan Duquette, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, said in an e-mail last night.

“The Orioles respect Major League Baseball’s recruiting policies and the governing bodies and people that contribute to the growth of baseball around the world,” he said.

The incident prompted Jeong Geum-jo, the KBO’s head of baseball operations, to consider changing the rules so his organization has the right to prevent MLB teams from signing amateur players, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

“We’re seeking to revise the agreement so that only those who are playing or have played for professional teams can sign with MLB teams,” Jeong told Yonhap. “That way, we can protect amateur players.”

The Korea Baseball Association, the sport’s governing body in South Korea, said in a statement on Feb. 9 that the Orioles’ scouts will be prohibited from games, including the national high school and college tournaments which showcase the country’s best players. The group said the same penalty will be assessed on any MLB team that contacts amateur players before their senior year.

Kim, who pitched for Daegu Sangwon High School, was suspended indefinitely from playing and coaching in Korea by the KBA for making contact with a professional team before his final year of high school, the Sun said.

Kim, who will turn 18 in April, is scheduled to appear at the Orioles’ minor-league spring training camp in Sarasota, Florida.

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