Photo: © Kia Tigers/KBO

GWANGJU, Korea — The Kia Tigers have shut down star left-handed pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang for the remainder of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season, in order to rest the ace ahead of November’s WBSC Premier12, according to reports from Korean media giant MBC.

Yang, the 2017 KBO MVP and 2006 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup star, currently leads the league with a 2.29 ERA and will finish the season with a 16-8 record for the Tigers, who will not make a run in the playoffs.

National Team rosters for the 2019 WBSC Premier12 are to be submitted by 3 October, but it is expected that Yang will help lead Korea’s pitching staff for manager Kyung-moon Kim.

“As the defending champions, we will do our best to win the title again, writing a new chapter in the world baseball history and giving national joy to our fans,” Kim told reporters in April.

World No. 3 Korea — the defending (2015) Premier12 and (2008) Olympic Champions — will begin the global competition as the likely favorites in Group C, which features No. 5 Cuba, No. 7 Australia and No. 10 Canada.

Hosted by KBO, Group C games will be played from 6-8 November at the 16,813-seat Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. The top two teams from the group will advance to the Super Round in Japan, hosted by Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

The most important international baseball competition in recent history, the WBSC Premier12, which features the world’s 12 top-ranked men’s national baseball teams, will award two tickets to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in addition to $5.2 million USD in prize money.