Report: Jung Ho Kang to Play Winter Ball in Dominican Republic

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

According to a report, Pirate slugger Jung Ho Kang will player winter ball in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

A big reason the Pittsburgh Pirates are 61-66 this season is that they have not had third baseman Jung Ho Kang all season. After being charged with a third DUI this offseason, Kang has been unable to get an American work visa.

Due to this, he has been in his native South Korea all season. He has spent the best few months take at-bats against pitching machines but this can not replicate live pitching. Especially live pitching that is of Major League quality.

Well, according to a report, Jung Ho Kang may get to face Major League quality live pitching this season. According to Grandes en los Deportes, Kang will play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

The Dominican Winter League is the most competitive winter league there is. Every year countless Major League players partake in the Dominican Winter League. Due to this, by playing in the Dominican Winter League Jung Ho Kang would get to face Major League level quality pitching.

Furthermore, getting Jung Ho Kang live game reps at third base will be very beneficial as well. Especially since he has never been known for his defense and third base is not an easy position to play.

This season the Pirate offense has missed Jung Ho Kang dearly. Since making his Major League debut in April of 2015 Kang owns a .210 ISO, .355 on-base percentage, and a .483 slugging percentage. The past two seasons he has been the team’s best power hitter and a lack of power has been a big issue this season. His .362 wOBA and 131 wRC+ were both second to just Andrew McCutchen on the Pirates in 2015 and 2016. His 6.2 fWAR was second to just McCutchen and Starling Marte.

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While getting Jung Ho Kang at-bats in the Dominican Winter League would be great to allow him to face live, Major League quality pitching this would not make Kang any closer to returning to the Pirates. He still would need to acquire a work visa for the 2018 season and that is far from a guarantee. Hell, it is probably a longshot at best.