The 28-year-old was an on-base machine throughout his Korean League career and slashed .326/.438/.541 in 2015. But Kim struggled in spring training, going hitless in his first 23 at-bats and finishing 8-for-45 with one walk. The Orioles penciled Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard into the Opening Day lineup while trying (and failing) to talk Kim into beginning the season at Triple-A.
Kim was rarely used over the first couple months, as Baltimore leaned heavily on Rickard, with Nolan Reimold also getting at-bats. In a rare start on May 25, Kim went 3-for-3 with two doubles. The Orioles could not ignore him any longer, as he was hitting .438 at the time and Kim has started all but one game since. The well has dried up on Rickard’s playing time following Kim’s breakout.
Kim has no trouble putting the ball in play, as evidenced by his Korean League track record. Even when struggling in the Grapefruit League, he struck out just six times in 45 at-bats. He is hitting .391/.466/.500 through Friday night’s game, with eight walks and nine strikeouts in 64 at-bats. Kim has just one home run so far, so his power is not translating yet after hitting 28 home runs in the KBO last year. For now, the Orioles seem comfortable to pencil him in the second spot of the order between Adam Jones and Manny Machado.
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