Starting this week, I'll be taking a look back at former Braves you may or may not remember. Today, we'll be looking at Jung-keun Bong.
Before the (forgettable) days of Kenshin Kawakami, the Braves had ventured into the Asian market years earlier with the signing of 17-year-old Korean lefty pitcher Jung-keun Bong in November 1997. Bong rose through the organization to be ranked the 10th-best prospect in the Braves organization in 2002 by Baseball America. He debuted April 23 of that year against Arizona and took the loss after allowing five runs in six innings.
Bong would make the Opening Day roster in 2003 as a reliever. However, he was more or less ineffective as he issued 31 walks and surrendered 56 hits in 57 innings, finishing the season with a 5.05 ERA. That offseason, he and fellow prospect Bubba Nelson were traded to the Reds for...Chris Reitsma (shudder). Bong spent much of his Reds tenure in the minors but did have three starts in 2004; he missed all of 2005 with shoulder surgery before being released in 2006.
So where is he now?
Bong returned home to South Korea following his brief major-league career and just completed his ninth season pitching for the LG Twins of the KBO. He has enjoyed a greater degree of success since returning, recording 109 saves as the team's closer since taking the role in 2012. He was on South Korea's WBC teams of 2006 and 2009 as well as the team that won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics. (STATS)