Seeing that Kang had 40 home runs and 117 runs-batted-in in just 117 games in 2014, I was eager to learn more. Jeeho Yoo, the sports writer for Yonhap News Agency who published the story of the auction's results, shared to me some interesting analysis about Kang:
@mattrappa The big question is if his power numbers in Korea will translate into equally big numbers in the majors. Teams have their doubts— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 20, 2014
@mattrappa As much as I like Kang, I don't think he will hit even half as many HRs in his first MLB season that he did here in '14 (40 HRs)— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 20, 2014
Asking why he envisions a decline in production for Kang, Yoo replied:
@mattrappa Oh, he's got a pretty big swing and a leg kick; scouts I've talked to say his swing has holes that can be exploited in MLB— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 20, 2014
@mattrappa On the other hand, he has such raw power, a rarity for middle infielders anywhere, be it MLB or KBO; hit or miss, I think :)— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 20, 2014
I then brought up that the Phillies recently traded away their perennial shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, and that they could very well be the "mystery team".
@mattrappa Big shoes to fill if it's the Phillies :) Rollins a good hitter and Gold Glove SS; don't think Kang has the glove— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 20, 2014
Yoo followed by stating that Kang lacks fielding range, and has developed a reputation in South Korea for "botching routine plays".
It appears the position Kang has the most experience at, other than at shortstop, is third base:
Asking Yoo whether or not he sees Kang becoming a viable catcher in Major League Baseball:
Gathering the information from our conversation, it appears as though Kang is a "trip and a half" fielding-wise. However Yoo's description of Kang's offense having 'raw power, a rarity for middle infielders anywhere' should be the ultimate take-away. Fielding blunders can be fixed with time, and with proper instruction from perhaps Larry Bowa, or even teammate Chase Utley.
Kang's capability of hitting for power, on the other hand, cannot be gained through repetitive drills. It's simply a natural talent of his that should far outweigh the negative aspects of his fielding. Hopefully, acting team president Pat Gillick, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., and the rest of the Phillies' front office had this same philosophy, assuming they were active in bidding for Jung-ho Kang.