Hei-chun Lee

From BR Bullpen

Hei-chun Lee

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 204 lb.

Hei-chun Lee pitched for the Doosan Bears for many years, appearing in over 500 games. He has appeared on occasion for the South Korean national team.

Lee debuted in the Korea Baseball Organization as a teenager in 1998, with a 1.74 ERA in 15 outings for the OB Bears. In 1999, he went 8-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 77 games. In 2000, he was 5-6 with a save and a 5.02 ERA in 78 appearances. His record in '01 was 9-6 with 3 saves and a 3.62 ERA. He finished 6th in the league in ERA. The Baseball Almanac lists him as the only effective pitcher in the high-scoring 2001 Korean Series; he won two games to help the Bears win the Series. During the 2001 Baseball World Cup, Lee led South Korea with 5 games pitched. He went 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA and fanned 20 in 13 2/3 IP. He tied for 5th in the Cup in strikeouts behind Chih-Chia Chang, Roger Deago, Shugo Fujii and Jose Contreras.

In 2002, the Bears southpaw pitched 78 games again; he was 2-4 with a save and a 4.67 ERA. In the 2002 Intercontinental Cup, Lee tied Byong-yong Chei for the Korean lead with 5 games. He allowed only one hit in 7 2/3 IP and struck out 12; on the other hand, he walked 5 and gave up 3 unearned runs. In the Gold Medal game, he walked Frederich Cepeda and struck out Kendry Morales in the 8th inning of a 3-1 Korean loss.

The next year, Hei-chun threw 83 games, going 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA; being used more as a LOOGY now, he only worked 55 innings. In 2004, Lee went 2-2 with a save and a 5.88 ERA in 79 games. 2005 was better as Lee became a starting pitcher and had a 7-4, 3.95 record. In 2006, he continued to progress, going 8-6 with a 2.79 ERA and 119 hits (just 4 homers) in 142 innings. He pitched in the 2006 Asian Games.

Lee spent 2007 in the South Korean Armed Services. In 2008, he returned to the diamond and fell to 7-5, 4.69.

Through 2008, he had pitched 559 games in the KBO, going 53-40 with 6 saves and a 4.16 ERA. In 902 innings, he allowed 868 hits, walked 531 and struck out 682.

Lee became a free agent that off-season and fielded offers from teams in Japan. He signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for $800,000 over 2 years, following fellow Korean hurler Chang-yong Lim to Yakult. He began the season in the minor leagues but debuted in Nippon Pro Baseball on May 4, starting a game against the Hiroshima Carp. He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs in 2 1/3 IP before leaving the game; Yakult went on to win 5-3.

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