The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed infielder Jung Ho Kang (pronounced "GAHNG") to a four-year deal with a club option for the 2019 season. The announcement was made by Pirates Executive Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington.
The 27-year-old Kang hit .356 (149-for-418) with 36 doubles, 40 home runs and 117 RBI in 117 games with the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) in 2014. He led the league in slugging percentage (.739) and OPS (1.198) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.459), home runs and total bases (309).
"First I want to thank the Nexen Heroes for allowing me the challenge of competing at a Major League level," said Kang. "I'm very excited and humbled by this opportunity. I look forward to joining a great group of teammates and I am ready to work hard to help the Pirates win any way that I can."
Kang made all 113 defensive appearances at shortstop in 2014 while setting league records with his home run and RBI totals at that position.
"We appreciate and respect Kang's accomplishments in Korea and look forward to helping him positively impact our Major League team," said Huntington. "He will complement our existing club with his offensive ability and defensive versatility. Our focus at the present time is helping him transition to the United States and to the Major Leagues. Our ability to help him with this transition will be key for him to reach his potential as a Major League Player."
A four-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time All-Star in the KBO, Kang has produced a .298 batting average, 193 doubles, 139 home runs and 545 RBI in his nine seasons (902 games) of play in Korea. He began his playing career with Hyundai in 2006 and spent two years (2006-2007) practicing at Pirate City in Bradenton, FL, prior to the Unicorn's regular season schedule.
In his career, the right-handed hitting Kang has made 890 appearances at shortstop, 35 at third base, 32 at second base, eight at catcher and three at first base.