Korea’s Rule 5 Draft

The “Secondary Draft” (2차 드래프트) or “Rule 5 Draft” will be held tomorrow, 2 pm at the Hotel Riviera Seoul.  Many are curious about this draft as it is a relatively private event.  So, on today’s post I would like to share what the “Secondary Draft” is all about.

Modeled after Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft, this draft began in 2011, the year when the Changwon NC Dinos was announced as the part of the Korea Baseball Championship family.  It will be held in November every other year, making 2013 the year to hold the Secondary Draft.  Its purpose is to solve the player shortage expansion teams may face, and provide opportunities for young Futures League (Korea’s minor league) players who is just stuck there for various reasons.  It could also serve as a platform for players who are dying for a change in scenery in a not-so-free free agency system that the KBO has.


*The first ever Korean “Secondary Draft” or “Rule 5 Draft” held in 2011. (Courtesy of Sports Chosun)

Each team submits a 40-man roster 10 days before draft day to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), who would then compile the the list and hand them out to all 10 professional teams.  Foreign players, players under conscription (military service), and those who filed for free agency are not included in this roster, nor eligible for the draft.  Being in the roster means you are protected, and will not be involved in the draft.  You remain safe (or doomed) in your original team.  However, the 40-man roster is kept confidential.  The players do not know, and fans do not know.  Players will only realize they were not on the list when their name has been announced by another team during this “Secondary Draft”.

So, it is basically a draft where teams pick players from other teams.  This has nothing to do with college, high school or any other form of amateur baseball.

The draft is consisted of three rounds, and order is the reverse order of the standings of the previous season with the expansion team on the top of the order.  So, in this draft, the kt wiz selects first, Hanwha Eagles select second, and Samsung Lions pick last.  Four to five extra rounds, depending on the deal to enter the Korea Baseball Championship, are given to expansion teams after all three rounds have been completed.  Teams can forfeit their right to draft.  The Seoul Nexen Heroes did not draft anyone in 2011.

There is also a transfer fee that a drafting team has to pay to the draftee’s original team:

  • 1st round selection: 300 million won (approx. 283,000 USD)
  • 2nd round selection: 200 million won (approx. 188,000 USD)
  • 3rd round selection and beyond: 100 million won (approx. 94,000 USD)

This is one of the advantages of the draft, that teams can acquire players at a relatively low price.  It is not so player-friendly, however, as players who refuse to comply to the draft results will be suspended for two seasons.  Furthermore, teams are not obligated to enlist the draftees in their active roster, something different from MLB’s Rule 5 Draft.

Lee Jae-hak (이재학) of the Changwon NC Dinos, Kim Sung-bae (김성배) of the Busan Lotte Giants, and Shin Yong-woon (신용운) of the Samsung Lions were some of the success stories of the 2011 Rule 5 Draft.  Lee (2.88 ERA, 10-5, 156 IP, 144 K) won the Rookie-of-the-Year Award this season, while Kim (3.05 ERA, 31 SV, 59 IP, 58 K) and Shin (2.03 ERA, 40 IP, 36 K) both displayed solid performances out of the bullpen.


*Lee Jae-hak (left) of the NC Dinos, and Kim Sung-bae (right) of the Lotte Giants. Both are considered successful choices of the Rule 5 Draft. (Courtesy of Nocut News)

Players have been also drafted for reasons of goodwill.  In 2011, the LG Twins drafted their once long time first baseman Choi Dong-soo (최동수), and long time former second baseman Kim Yil-kyeong (김일경).  Choi, at age 40 at the time, became the oldest player to be selected in a draft.  Both announced their retirements after this season, being able to retire as an LG Twin.


*Choi Dong-soo was able to retire as a member of his long time former team, the LG Twins. He became the oldest player to be selected in a draft in Korea. (Courtesy of mydaily)




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