Orioles apologize for “unintentional breach of protocol” in signing 17-year-old Korean pitcher

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Earlier this week, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) filed a complaint with MLB alleging that the Orioles broke protocol by signing 17-year-old left-hander Kim Seong-Min last month. The Korean Baseball Association (KBA), a separate organization, went a step further by banning Orioles’ scouts from attending local games. Well, tonight the Orioles responded.

Courtesy of Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette issued the following apology, via press release, to the KBO and KBA:

“On behalf of the Orioles organization, I offer a sincere apology to the Korea Baseball Organization and the Korea Baseball Association for the club’s unintentional breach of protocol in failing to tender a status check in the process of signing Seong-Min Kim. 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.”

I didn’t think it could get more embarrassing for the Orioles than their general manager search earlier this offseason, but we might have ourselves a new winner. This apology is better late than never, I suppose, but isn’t it a little curious they released this on a Friday night when a lot of folks (at least stateside) aren’t paying attention? This is what happens when you miss baseball and love a little conspiracy.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.