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Why Dodgers prospect Hyun-Seok Jang could become one of MLB's next Korean stars



Why Dodgers prospect Hyun-Seok Jang could become one of MLB's next Korean stars

During a workout at Dodgers spring training recently this spring, Rob Hill was stopped by a bystander confused by a case of mistaken identity.

The person had seen Hill, the Dodgers director of minor league pitching, talking with a tall, lanky, athletic Asian player on the backfields at Camelback Ranch.

Was that, the bystander asked, two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani?

No, Hill politely informed them. The player in question was actually Hyun-Seok Jang.


While Ohtani and fellow Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto have inevitably dominated headlines during Dodgers spring training this year, club officials have quietly raved about the other talented Asian product embarking on his first spring with the team.

Jang, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher who signed for $900,000 out of South Korea last year, doesn’t have the name recognition of a big-league standout yet. But, in several years, the club is hopeful he’ll be staging his own MLB ascension — one the team never got to experience with Ohtani more than a decade ago.

When Ohtani was coming out of high school in Japan in 2012, the Dodgers attempted to persuade him to move to the United States immediately.

They were enamored with his capabilities as a pitcher. They visualized his road to major-league stardom. And, had Ohtani’s preference to remain a two-way player not ultimately persuaded him to stay in Japan and play in the Nippon Professional Baseball league, he might have been a Dodger long before signing his record $700-million contract this offseason.

Last summer, Jang faced a similar set of circumstances, albeit without the two-way caveat.


A native of Changwon, South Korea, a port city on the country’s southern coast, Jang emerged as not only the nation’s top high school player, but one of its more promising young pitching products in recent memory.

He has all the tools of a potential future MLB starter, from his 6-foot-4 frame to his upper-90s mph fastball to an array of breaking pitches that can induce swing and miss.

Yet, like Ohtani, he had the option to bide his time until then playing in his home country — where he was widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in the most recent KBO League draft, and would have been a prominent national figure in Korea’s baseball community.

“He would’ve started in the KBO, at the top level, right away,” said Daniel Kim, an independent South Korean journalist who has contributed to ESPN’s coverage of the nation’s domestic league. “If you’re a top one, two, three [high school] player, you get a lot of recognition.”


However, in what was a relatively polarizing move in South Korea, Jang decided to forge a different path.

As he neared the end of his high school career, he announced his intention to sign with an MLB team. Last August, the Dodgers were the ones to secure his signature. And now the team — which just so happens to open its season Wednesday in Seoul against the San Diego Padres — is hoping he can become their next Korean success story, following in the footsteps of past star pitchers like Chan Ho Park and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

“We see a future with top-of-the-rotation starter stuff,” Hill said. “It’s just a matter of getting there and doing it. He can do so much with the ball. He’s so adept at trying to improve. I think the sky’s the limit.”

Jang, who declined an interview request for this story, explained at the time of his signing that he wanted to move to the U.S. to expedite his path to the major leagues.

He noted MLB clubs’ advanced infrastructure for pitching development, from advanced analysis to high-tech training facilities.


He said he was eager to face American competition, despite the unglamorous minor-league lifestyle of small towns and long bus trips that come with it.

Most of all, he wanted to test himself competitively, unafraid of uprooting his life and moving 6,000 miles away to a country where he speaks little (though more every day, Hill said) of the English language.

“It was a tough decision for me because I dreamed of pitching both in the KBO and MLB,” Jang said in a statement last August, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. “But ultimately, I wanted to challenge myself in the best league in the world and decided to take a crack at MLB.”

To Dodgers executives, it was the last piece of confirmation they needed.

“I think it’s a really good indication of make-up and work ethic,” general manager Brandon Gomes said of Jang’s decision.


Added Hill: “He’s incredibly ambitious … He doesn’t care necessarily about everyone’s opinions. He just wants to be good.”

There were plenty of other teams, of course, interested in the pitcher. The Texas Rangers were seen as the strongest other contender to sign him, according to one person with knowledge of the situation who was unauthorized to speak publicly.

At the time Jang announced his MLB intentions, the Dodgers also lacked the kind of money remaining in their annual international bonus pool to seriously make a run at signing him, forcing the front office to quickly try and seek out a trade.

A deal quietly came together on Aug. 4 of last year, when the Dodgers flipped prospects Aldrin Batista and Maximo Martinez to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for international slot money.

A week later, Jang’s signing with the team was official — a turn of events even the pitcher acknowledged came as a bit of a surprise.


“I knew they were interested in me,” he said at a news conference announcing the decision. “But I didn’t think I’d end up signing with this team.”

Before coming to the U.S., Jang played with the South Korean national team in last year’s Asian Games. By helping the country win a gold medal in the event, he earned an exemption from its mandatory military service obligations, clearing the way for him to play full-time in America this year.

According to Dodgers vice president of player development Will Rhymes, Jang will likely start this season in the rookie-level Arizona Complex league. Currently ranked as the club’s 18th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, he is still at least two to three years away from the big leagues.

In the meantime, Jang has worked closely with Hill and the rest of the Dodgers player development staff this spring on refining his expansive repertoire of pitches — which includes a sinker, changeup, curveball and slider in addition to his tantalizing high-velocity four-seamer.

“I mean, what doesn’t he throw?” Hill joked about Jang’s arsenal. “The actual command and ability to manipulate the baseball, it’s pretty advanced for his age.”


When Gomes first met Jang in person at the club’s DodgerFest event last month, he was struck by how the then-teenage prospect (Jang only turned 20 last week) sized up to Bobby Miller, the 6-foot-5 right-hander coming off a promising rookie season in 2023.

“When Bobby doesn’t make you look small, you’re like, ‘OK, this dude is put together,’” Gomes said. “With that body and his fastball quality right now, he certainly [projects as a] major-league starting pitcher.”

Once upon a time, the Dodgers thought something similar about a high-school-aged Ohtani.

In Jang, they see the chance to develop another future star from the other side of the world.

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Bernie Williams and his unique road from the World Series to New York Philharmonic



Bernie Williams and his unique road from the World Series to New York Philharmonic

For Bernie Williams, grabbing a bat was easy. He would pull out the same trusty 34 1/2-inch, 33-ounce Rawlings model for all occasions during his New York Yankees career, whether that was in spring training or the playoffs, whether he was facing a flamethrower or a knuckleballer.

Music, however, is different.

“Choosing a guitar is about the gig,’’ Williams said. “It’s about the sound that you want to create, and it’s about the music that you’re going to play. You need the right instrument with the right gig, and that varies with time.”

Such is what vexes the former outfielder as he prepares for a second big-league debut — this time in the arts. Williams for the first time will play guitar with the New York Philharmonic, at the Spring Gala on Wednesday, an epic milestone for a five-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion now deep into life’s second act.

So, which guitar? The acoustic steel string? The archtop? Williams said a few weeks ago that he might even choose to go electric “for that sort of Santana-like sound,” though he added it “might just be too over the top for that environment.”


Williams, who spent his entire career with the Yankees from 1991 to 2006, has rebranded himself as an accomplished musician, ordained with a Latin Grammy nomination and critical acclaim. Still, at age 55, the thought of stepping into the spotlight at another hallowed New York venue — think Yankee Stadium, but with better acoustics — gives Williams butterflies.

On Wednesday, he will play one selection, his 2009 piece “Moving Forward,” as newly arranged by jazz artist Jeff Tyzik. Famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel will be at the helm.

“I expect to be as nervous as I’ve ever been on any kind of stage,’’ Williams said “But I think it’s gonna be no different from playing a seventh game of the World Series, you know?”

To answer that last question: No, Mr. Williams, we don’t know. There is no one else in baseball history poised to compare the experience of baseball’s Fall Classic and the Philharmonic’s Spring Gala. No one else has played in “The House That Ruth Built” and in the concert hall Leonard Bernstein christened by conducting on opening night in 1962.

Williams’ distinction means much gnashing of teeth for the president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic. Gary Ginstling is an ardent Mets fan.


“This is a deeply difficult decision for me, I have to say,’’ Ginstling cracked during a phone interview. “I did scour the landscape for any retired Mets. But no one could hold a candle to Bernie Williams.”

Bernie Williams has performed the national anthem before baseball games since retiring. Here he is in 2021 at an Oakland Athletics-Minnesota Twins game. (Darren Yamashita / USA Today)

This experience is enough to give Williams flashbacks to his first big-league at-bat. The switch hitter was 22 years old when he stepped to the plate in the third inning at Yankee Stadium against left-handed junkballer Jeff Ballard on July 7, 1991. It was hardly a soaring opening note. The Baseball-Reference box score immortalized the moment this way: Groundout: 3B-1B (Weak 3B).

The outing got better. Williams drove in a run with the sacrifice fly in the fifth and brought home another run with an infield single in the ninth.

“I remember being really nervous,’’ Williams said of that debut. “I remember being in this place where there was a lot of uncertainty about my career and my own ability to stay in the big leagues. All I wanted to do was to get an opportunity to be able to show people what I can do.’’

A week later, Williams hit his first home run at Anaheim Stadium against the California Angels. He hit a fastball thrown by Chuck Finley over the left-center field wall. He kept rolling from there: a .297 batting average with 287 home runs and 147 stolen bases over 16 seasons.


Williams helped the Yankees win four World Series titles, including three in a row from 1998 to 2000. His 22 career postseason homers rank third all-time behind Manny Ramírez (29) and José Altuve (27).

That summation has applied, at times, to his musical career, partly because it would be easy to dismiss Williams as just another retired jock with an expensive new hobby. But his lifelong musical journey is part of what appeals to the New York Philharmonic. The Spring Gala, to be performed at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, is a fundraiser for musical education. Ginstling wants the younger crowd to be inspired by Williams’ scholarly dedication to his craft.

Williams’ first instructor was his father. Bernabé Williams, an able seaman with the Merchant Marine, returned from Spain with a gift for his 7-year-old son. It was a guitar that his son never put down. The family then found a guitar teacher in its neighborhood in Puerto Rico, and by the time Bernie was 9 years old, he had performed on a local radio station with other star pupils.

“The guitar teacher had all the little kids that were taking lessons with him, the ones that were kind of like standouts,’’ Williams recalled. “He would give them an opportunity to play a song or two on that radio show. … It was such a great experience and kind of set the stage for everything that came after.”


Williams kept playing throughout his baseball career, especially so while grieving the loss of his father, who died of lung disease in 2001. The former batting champion then studied guitar and composition for a year at the State University of New York at Purchase in preparation for his first album, “Moving Forward.” That release strengthened his bona fides thanks to 14 solid tracks including collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Jon Secada and Dave Koz.

Bernie Williams and musician Jon Secada performing during the Grammy SoundCheck on April 17, 2009, in New York City. (Joe Kohen / WireImage)

But eventually, Williams formalized his expertise. He enrolled in the prestigious Manhattan School of Music en route to a bachelor’s degree.

“I tell you what, none of the home runs that I hit in the postseason helped me there,” Williams said. “I had to really reinvent myself. And in a very strange way, I had to earn the admiration of the kids that I was playing with, because they were all virtuosos in their own instruments by the time they got to the Manhattan School of Music.

“I was the old guy in the back of the room. I was asking all the questions and asking that no one erase the blackboard until I was finished writing all the notes.”

Williams wasn’t chasing a diploma for the sake of the paper. The experience signified his graduation from ballplayer to artist.


“I think the school gave me a great perspective on the reasons why I wanted to be a musician and the responsibility that we have as music makers to make sure that we make this world a better place,” he said. “The joy and the power of music is just incredible thing to use for the good of the world.”

Therein lies the message of the Spring Gala and underscores why even a Mets fan like Ginstling embraces a Yankee in the house. The eclectic bill on Wednesday is designed to introduce new audiences to the philharmonic. Selections range from a suite from Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” to two pieces from rapper Common to an aria called “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5,” sung by the South Korean soprano Hera Hyesang Park.

“I think that’s what I’m so excited about,” Ginstling said. “We’re gonna get a ton of Bernie Williams fans in the house that night who probably will be hearing the New York Philharmonic for the first time. It’ll be great for them to hear Bernie, but we want them to hear the orchestra play Strauss. And we want them to hear the orchestra play Nina Shekhar, this up-and-coming composer whose piece we’re playing.

“We’re hoping that they’ll get hooked not just by Bernie, but by all of this repertoire, and they’ll come back.”

Until then, Williams sometimes wakes up unexpectedly at 2:30 a.m. and reaches for his guitar. Still half-awake, he’ll strum until the notes sound just as they should before allowing himself to drift back to sleep.


“That’s the level of preparation you need for an event like this,” he said. “Because when the nerves come in, you want to still be in control and not freeze when the situation arises. The only antidote to that is being well-prepared.

“That’s true of doing anything that requires the spotlight and great expectations and great pressures.”

Williams hardly is the first ballplayer to make news with his music. As far back as 1964, a Yankees bus ride turned tense when Yogi Berra grew tired of hearing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as played on the harmonica by a utility infielder named Phil Linz.

But that was the “New York Phil harmonica.” The New York Philharmonic is a whole different ballgame.

“If anything,” Williams said, “baseball taught me to be able to perform under pressure, and this is definitely going put that to the test.”


(Top photo: Mychal Watts / Getty Images)

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Pacers' Tyrese Haliburton says racial slur hurled at younger brother during playoff game



Pacers' Tyrese Haliburton says racial slur hurled at younger brother during playoff game

Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton said on Tuesday a fan in Milwaukee directed a racial slur at his younger brother during the team’s playoff game against the Bucks.

Haliburton said the incident occurred in Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series. The Pacers, the lower seed, started the series off at the Fiserv Forum.

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, #0, warms up before game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on April 21, 2024. (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

“My little brother in the stands the other day was called an N-word,” he told reporters after Indiana’s 125-108 Game 2 win over Milwaukee. “It was important for us as a family to just address that. That was important for us to talk about because that didn’t sit right with anybody in our family. It’s just been important to have my family here right now, and my little brother’s handled that the right way”


The Bucks responded to Haliburton’s remarks.

“An arena guest services representative reported that during Sunday’s game a few guests were not sitting in their correct seats,” a team spokesman said. “The guest services representative asked the group to move one section over to their correct seats. 

Tyrese Haliburton shoots

Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton reacts to his three pointer during the second half of Game 2 of the first round NBA playoff basketball series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


“Then, one of the individuals in the group claimed to the representative that a person sitting in front of him had used a derogatory term toward him. The accused person denied the accusation. The group moved to their correct seats and no further incident was reported.

“We take our fan environment extremely seriously and are committed to providing a safe and secure experience.”

Tyrese Haliburton guards Patrick Beverley

Milwaukee Bucks’ Patrick Beverley, left, gets past Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA playoff basketball game on Sunday, April 21, 2024 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The series is tied 1-1 after Tuesday night’s game. Game 3 is set for Indianapolis on Friday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.


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Sam Farmer's final 2024 NFL mock draft: Quarterbacks 1-2-3 after big trade?



Sam Farmer's final 2024 NFL mock draft: Quarterbacks 1-2-3 after big trade?

This will be the first NFL draft held in the Motor City.

Fittingly, the first few teams will be looking for offensive engines.

Quarterbacks were selected No. 1 overall in seven of the last 10 drafts, and that figures to be the case again Thursday with the Chicago Bears likely to take former USC standout Caleb Williams.

And as was the case in 2021, quarterbacks could go 1-2-3.


This mock draft contemplates a trade near the top, with conjecture that the New England Patriots could swap the No. 3 pick for Minnesota’s two first-round selections at 11 and 23. Both teams are in the market for quarterbacks, so it’s perfectly reasonable that the Patriots might stay put.

Regardless, there is intrigue at the top of this year’s draft.

There’s also legacy. This field of prospects features several whose fathers played in the NFL, among them Marvin Harrison Jr. and Frank Gore Jr., Kris Jenkins, who likewise shares has father’s name, along with Brenden Rice (son of Jerry Rice), Joe Alt (John Alt), Luke McCaffrey (Ed McCaffrey) and Jonah Elliss (Luther Elliss).

Harrison is likely to be a top-five pick and the first non-quarterback off the board.

One way the first round could unfold:


1. CHICAGO: QB Caleb Williams, USC — The Bears are taking a quarterback. Barring a surprising head fake, they’re taking this Trojans star.

2. WASHINGTON: QB Jayden Daniels, Louisiana State — Heisman winner and dual-threat QB gives the Commanders a weapon with Lamar Jackson tendencies.

3. MINNESOTA (proposed trade with New England): QB Drake Maye, North Carolina — The Vikings might have to package their two first-round picks to get their QB.

North Carolina’s Drake Maye (10) could be the third quarterback selected in the NFL draft Thursday.

(Chris Seward / Associated Press)


4. ARIZONA: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State — Cardinals want to find their next Larry Fitzgerald, so they grab a gift for Kyler Murray.

5. CHARGERS: T Joe Alt, Notre Dame — If Harrison were to slide to them, the Chargers would love it. Alt could move from left tackle in college to right tackle in the pros.

6. N.Y. GIANTS: QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan — McCarthy could go earlier. Giants are looking to move on from Daniel Jones, who is coming off an ACL tear.

7. TENNESSEE: WR Malik Nabers, Louisiana State — DeAndre Hopkins is old, and Treylon Burks has trouble staying healthy. Quarterback Will Levis needs more help.


8. ATLANTA: OLB Dallas Turner, Alabama — Turner fits the Falcons’ change to a 3-4 defense and can both rush the passer and drop in coverage.

9. CHICAGO: T J.C. Latham, Alabama — The Bears need more help in the interior of their OL, but taking a tackle here affords them some flexibility.

10. N.Y. JETS: T Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State — Receiver is tempting here, but a reliable tackle probably would be even more helpful for the aging Aaron Rodgers.

11. NEW ENGLAND (proposed trade from Minnesota): DT Byron Murphy II, Texas — If the Patriots bail out of the No. 3 pick, they might decide to wait a bit on a QB.

Washington's Rome Odunze (1) catches a pass for a touchdown as Oregon State defensive back Jaden Robinson (4) pursues.

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze could end up in Denver.

(Mark Ylen / Associated Press)


12. DENVER: WR Rome Odunze, Washington — Jerry Jeudy is gone and Courtland Sutton might not be around much longer. Time to restock at receiver.

13. LAS VEGAS: QB Michael Penix, Washington — A second wave of QBs is going to go, and the Raiders might need to start that wave instead of risking Penix being gone in second round.

14. NEW ORLEANS: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia — Bowers would be a good fit in Denver, too. He should go in this range and surely would make Derek Carr happy.

15. INDIANAPOLIS: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo — Colts gave up a lot of explosive plays last season. Mitchell could help them cut down on those.


16. SEATTLE: OLB Chop Robinson, Penn State — Can never have too many talented edge rushers, and Robinson would be a good fit for new defensive coordinator Aden Durde.

17. JACKSONVILLE: CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama — Jaguars lost Darious Williams back to the Rams, so there’s a spot for Arnold to step into right away.

18. CINCINNATI: T Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State — The Bengals are OK on the left side, but they are in need of an upgrade on the right. Fashanu can play either side.

19. RAMS: DE Jared Verse, Florida State — No one is going to step in and strike fear the way Aaron Donald did, but the Rams can still beef up their pass rush. Verse was a sack machine in college.

Florida State defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) follows a play against Syracuse.

Jared Verse (5) was a great pass rusher for Florida State and the Rams need help on the defensive line.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)


20. PITTSBURGH: T Troy Fatanu, Washington — Fatanu is capable of playing all over the offensive line, so maybe he starts at center and eventually moves to right tackle.

21. MIAMI: CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson — The Dolphins might take a defensive tackle here, but Wiggins is excellent value at a coveted spot if he slips this far.

22. PHILADELPHIA: OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma — Eagles select eventual replacement for five-time Pro Bowler Lane Johnson, who has been a rock at right tackle but is 33.

23. NEW ENGLAND (proposed trade from Minnesota): CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama — Foot injury might give teams a little trepidation, but McKinstry has the tools to be a shutdown corner in NFL.


24. DALLAS: T Amarius Mims, Georgia — The Cowboys need a center, too, but Mims will be the left tackle of the future for somebody. Why not Dallas?

25. GREEN BAY: T Jordan Morgan, Arizona — Packers have released David Bakhtiari, and they need to address their offensive line. Good place to start.

26. TAMPA BAY: C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon — GM Jason Licht likes drafting offensive linemen, and the Buccaneers need to find a solid center once and for all.

27. ARIZONA: DE Laiatu Latu, UCLA — Cardinals need help all along their defensive front, and Latu could slide a bit because of his medical history.

28. BUFFALO: WR Brian Thomas Jr., Louisiana State — With no more Stefon Diggs, the Bills need another top-shelf target for Josh Allen. Thomas fills those requirements.


29. DETROIT: CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa — The Lions have had lots of injuries at corner. The versatile DeJean could help them there, and in the return game.

30. BALTIMORE: WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia — If they don’t take a corner, the Ravens might look for a receiver to pair with Zay Flowers.

31. SAN FRANCISCO: WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina — Tempting to pick up help on the defensive line, but the 49ers might look for an eventual Brandon Aiyuk replacement.

32. KANSAS CITY: WR Xavier Worthy, Texas — Could Worthy be the next Tyreek Hill? It didn’t hurt the prospect that he broke the combine record with a 4.21-second 40.

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