Jae Weong Seo
I still remember the first Mets prospect I followed though the minors. It was Jae Weong Seo, or Jae Seo as he liked to be called.
Unlike recent big leaguers from South Korea, Seo signed a free agent deal right out of high school before he played in the Korean Leagues. He was a big time prospect with a big time repertoire. They thought so highly of him, they gave him $1 million right out of high school. He was a well regarded prospect. He was good he was tabbed to start the 2001 Future’s Game. While he had some injury issues, few questioned if he was going to be a big leaguer.
Seo made his debut in a relief appearance on July 21, 2002. He pitched a the next year he would join the rotation where he would have two disappointing seasons. Then in 2005, Seo appeared to turn his career around at the age of 27.
I thought the seminal moment of his career was going to be the night Rick Peterson challenged Jae Seo to pitch better, to throw harder. Seo seemed to take it to heart. In 2005, Seo went 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP in 14 starts. He seemed ticketed for a spot in the rotation on a young and emerging Mets team. Omar Minaya had other ideas. He traded Seo at his peak value for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll.
Sanchez was a huge part of the Mets bullpen in 2006 until his ill-fated cab ride. Seo, on the other hand, never reached the heights he reached in 2005. He was out of the league two years later, and he returned to his native South Korea. He got to be a part of a championship team with the 2009 Kia Tigers. He set a record with 44 consecutive scoreless innings in 2012. Now, he’s retiring. Apparently, he’s so well-regarded that the team wants him to remain on as a pitching coach.
So no, Seo might not have had the career we all envisioned he might. However, he did have a good career. He won a title. He set records. He earned the respect of his peers along the way. In the end, that’s a great career. One that anyone would admire.
Congratulations on a good career Jae Weong Seo.