The New York Yankees signed shortstop Hoy Park at the age of 18 as an international free agent in 2014, giving him a signing bonus of $1.1 million. He was a part of a group of international signees that also included the highly regarded prospect, Wilkerman Garcia.
The Yankees assigned him to the Pulaski Yankees in 2015 to start off his professional career.
By the time Park arrived in Pulaski, he had turned 19 and had made the move to the United States. Park is still learning English, but by all accounts, adjusted well to the move and playing professional baseball.
Park appeared in 56 games and produced a .239/.351/.383 line. He collected 53 hits with 11 doubles, three triples, and five home runs while driving in 30 runs. He showed some pop in his bat which took people by surprise. He also drew 34 walks while stealing 12 bases in 19 attempts.
In the field, Park played in 54 games at short, making 14 errors in 214 chances for a .935 fielding percentage.
Park was bumped up to Charleston after his showing at Pulaski in 2015. The Yankees also assigned fellow shortstop prospect Kyle Holder to the RiverDogs. The Yankees decided to rotate the two between shortstop and second base.
Park became an instant fan favorite on Opening Night at Joe Riley Park in Charleston when a base running mistake he made ended up in a RiverDogs walk off win. Johnny Magliozzi was on the mound for the Columbia Fireflies in the bottom of the ninth, Chris Gittens was at the plate with Eduardo Navas at third and Park at second and Trey Amburgey at first with the score 4-3 in favor of the Flies. With a 3-2 count, Park took off anticipating Magliozzi going to the mound. Magliozzi stepped off and ran toward Park. Navas took off for home from third base. Magliozzi then turned and fired a high throw home that went off catcher Tyler Moore‘s glove allowing Navas and Park to for the winning run.
Park played in 116 games registering a .225/.336/.329 line. He collected 98 hits with 15 doubles and a South Atlantic League-leading 12 triples. Park stole 32 bases, good for seventh best in the league, out of 35 attempts. Part of the reason why his home run production fell from five home runs at Pulaski down to two at Charleston was due to his home ballpark. Joe Riley Park is known as a pitchers park where the wind off the Ashley River behind the outfield wall knocks down fly balls.
In the field, Park made some errors at shortstop and played well at second base. He played 73 games at shortstop and 32 games at second base. He made 20 errors at shortstop in 275 chances for a .927 fielding percentage. At second base, he made five errors in 122 chances for a .959 fielding percentage.
Park returned to Charleston for the start of 2017. In 86 games, Park slashed .262/.358/367 and hit six home runs with five triples and six doubles. He stole 18 bases in 25 attempts. Park was selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and earned a promotion to the Tampa Yankees of the Class-A Advanced Florida State League.
In 24 games at Tampa, Park produced a .213/.315/.330 slash line. He had a triple, home run and six doubles in his time with the T-Yanks.
Park is still young and will be 21 by the time the 2018 season starts.
He has a really strong arm but needs to work on his footwork. Luis Dorante, his manager in Charleston, had this to say about Park’s defense, “He relies a lot on his arm and accuracy. I recognized that in spring training (in 2016) when I was watching him and giving him some ground balls and I say, ‘you gotta use your lower half.’ At such a young age for those guys, I think you gotta take your time and repeat it over and over until they get it and they get a feel for it.”
At second base, he looked sharp in the field, and with the glut of shortstop prospects in the Yankees system, he will continue to bounce between shortstop and second.
Offensively, Park needs to cut down on his strikeouts and be more patient. He does have decent pop in his bat, and as he gains strength, that will bear out more in his stats. He can be a weapon on the base paths. He just needs to get on base more and improve his baserunning skills when the ball is put in play. He does make mental errors running the bases at times. With that said, he’s young, and those types of things will improve with maturity.
“We just gotta be patient with a young guy like this. He’s got potential,” Dorante said about Park.
Park has an excellent chance to start the season with the Tampa Tarpons with an opportunity to end up in Trenton before the season ends.
He can continue to grow at shortstop and can work on improving his patience and knowledge of the strike zone. He could also see a lot of time at second base again as well, depending on where the Yankees decide to place their corps of middle infielders throughout the system. His struggles at times can be attributed to his adapting to life in the United States. As he continues to mature and grow, it’s expected Park will fill out to his full potential.