This story was originally published on June 22. We have updated it to reflect Kevin Sim being drafted No. 148 overall by the D-backs.
PHOENIX -- Kevin Sim is the son of Hercules, and he used his strength to impress all the scouts at the MLB Draft Combine.
Sim led the Combine field in hard hits (15), sweet spots (16), hard hit plus sweet spots (31) and had the most hits over 400 feet (four) during his hitting showcase from Day 1 of workouts. At the University of San Diego, he hit .295 with 25 home runs and 97 RBIs over the past two seasons.
Kevin’s father, Chong Soo Shim, hit 300 home runs in his 15-year career in the KBO. His strength earned him the nickname Hercules, which was given to him by a local reporter when he was just 20 years old.
His son now has the opportunity to carve his legacy in the United States, the same as his father did in South Korea.
“My dad has been there through everything – my youth career, high school to college,” said Kevin, who was selected by the D-backs in the fifth round of the 2023 Draft on Monday. “Being able to learn from him and pick his brain and work with him off the field and on the field. I'm super fortunate to have his skill set.”
In 2009, Shim moved his family to San Diego. His children, Jake, Kevin and Eric, have the Sim last name. During their relocation process to the United States, Shim said his father accidentally wrote out his children’s last name as Sim when he was filling out their passport application. It would’ve been difficult to make the name change, so they decided to keep Sim.
Shim wanted to make sure that his children were in the best position to make their baseball dreams come true, and also to take advantage of the educational opportunities that can come with playing the sport. He said that in South Korea, if you want to be a professional baseball player, you have to dedicate all your time to it. Basically, it’s a full-time job, even if you are just a teenager. He wanted to make sure his kids had the resources to succeed off the diamond as well.
“When we moved here from South Korea, [Kevin] went through middle school and high school, with good grades, even as a junior in college,” Shim said. “I like that kind of environment very much. As a person, he’ll learn more on and off the field. They'll help the developing as a baseball player as well.”
When Shim started coaching Kevin, he hoped his son would replicate the style of play that made him a popular figure in the KBO. But as time went on, he decided he needed to let his son figure out his own style of play, though Kevin’s swing still shows flashes of his dad’s.
“My dad has always been a great hitter throughout his career,” Kevin said. “I worked with him non-stop hitting-wise. I think everything that I show on the field is all the work that you put behind the scenes together just to simplify my swing and be able to find something that works for me. There are definitely some basic philosophies that I take.”
Shim had dreams of playing in MLB as a kid. In the 1990s, he would wake up around 3 a.m. to tune into the one channel that broadcast MLB games. His favorite players to watch were Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. The closest Shim came to the Majors was a Spring Training stint with the Marlins, so in some form he is living that dream by seeing his son chase it now.
“It is really special because we were in a different situation back then [when they first arrived to the United States],” Shim said. “We were in the process, especially for my kids, of familiarizing ourselves with the cultural difference. Even now looking at him hit BP at Chase Field, through college and high school baseball … Every moment with him is like showing me an older picture.”
Kevin felt proud of his Korean heritage during the World Baseball Classic. There have been 26 South Koreans to reach the Majors. If he makes it there, it’ll be important to both him and his father to embrace his Korean roots and hopefully inspire not only the players back home, but all the Korean-Americans who want to break that barrier.
“It’s huge for a small baseball community,” Kevin said. “Just seeing all those guys playing in the KBO and some of the players competing at the highest stage in the World Baseball Classic, it's exciting to watch.”