The biggest need that the Chicago Cubs will have this off-season will be for an impact bat and the team should exhaust all resources when trying to find the best fit. That is why the news out of Korea is encouraging as the Cubs have scouts on hand to evaluate 24-year-old outfielder Jung-hoo Lee.
The Kiwoom Heroes are set to post Lee after this current KBO season and ahead of the 2024 Major League Baseball regular season. Lee has emerged as one of the best-emerging hitters in the KBO.
The 2022 season was a breakout season for Lee as he slashed .349/.421/.575 with a wRC+ 175 and 23 home runs. Lee's power numbers have seen a regression in 2023 as he only has 6 home runs through 261 plate appearances with a .155 ISO.
But, we know the question that is on your mind. How does Lee's offensive approach project in Major League Baseball? Here is a part of the write-up that FanGraphs has on the Korean outfielder:
"Lee wields one of the sweetest looking swings on the planet and is especially good at flattening his bat path to crush fastballs at the top of the zone. There are still a couple yellow flags here to go along with all the good stuff. Lee's groundball rate (nearly 60%) and performance against big velocity (per Synergy, he faced 109 pitches of 93 mph or greater and slashed .226/.273/.419 against them) indicate risk with MLB transition, even if it's just risk that he doesn't actualize power in games."- FanGraphs
Translation, Lee's power transitioning to Major League Baseball is far from a guarantee and his regression in 2023 won't quell that concern. The upside, however, is that Lee will only be 25 at the start of the 2024 Major League Baseball season. Meaning, Lee is young enough to where his approach can develop and that may appeal to a team like the Cubs.