“I can’t think of a name…”
Lotte Giants manager Kim Tae-hyung is having an unfamiliar fall with a new team. In fact, for Kim, fall has always been a time for the postseason. Since taking over as manager of Doosan in 2015, he has been a regular in the fall baseball season, reaching the Korean Series for seven consecutive years until 2021. In the past, Kim Tae-hyung has been a part of the intense fall baseball scene.
For Kim, it’s hard to imagine that he’s not familiar with the season. “It’s been nine years since my last camp in 2014,” Kim said.
Starting with the inauguration ceremony on the 24th and the meeting on the 25th, Kim began his work as Lotte manager in earnest, and immediately after the meeting, he traveled around Sangdong Stadium to identify players. The players who are currently participating in the finalization camp are mainly those who stayed in the Future Team. From the first day, the pitchers were instructed to pitch out of the bullpen. Along the way, some players have caught the eye of the ‘masterminds’.
Of course, I haven’t memorized all of their names yet. As a commentator for SBS Sports this year, I watched nine teams, excluding Doosan, and remembered the faces and names of the first-team players, but the Futures players are inevitably unfamiliar. Even when I met with the press on the 26th, I still hadn’t fully memorized their names. However, the characteristics and strengths of the players were clearly imprinted in his mind.
“I think there are a lot of pitchers with good overall velocity,” said Kim Tae-hyung. “First of all, it’s about game management and control. Pitchers with fastballs have a good chance of doing well if they have good control. You have to be born with it,” he said, sharing his thoughts on Lotte’s young pitching staff.
On the first day of camp, Giants TV, the club’s YouTube channel, asked about right-handed fastball prospect Jeong Seong-jong (28) in detail and told him what he needed to work on. “He’s a pitcher who needs to pitch in the first team. I asked him about his throwing style, stance, and other things,” he explained.
He also gave brief impressions of the rookies. He couldn’t think of any names right away, but he mentioned right-hander Lee Jin-ha (19), a rookie this year. “And he has one good left hand. He’s tall…I think he throws about 150 kilometers.” The player Kim was referring to was Hong Min-ki (22), the fourth overall pick in the second round of the 2020 draft.
He is in his fourth year in the organization, but has only pitched one first-team game in 2021. He was attractive because of his wild pitching style and hard-hitting fastball.
However, even in the second team, he had a long rehabilitation time due to injuries such as shoulder and elbow. Eventually, in November 2021, he completed his military service on active duty by enlisting alongside Woo Kang-hoon, 21, a year his junior.
After being discharged in May of this year, Hong started pitching again in September of this year and posted a 4-game ERA of 21.60 (8 earned runs in 3⅓ innings). He also walked nine batters in those four games. However, the appeal of the left-handed fireballer cannot be ignored. Kim Tae-hyung’s preference for pitchers who can use their power to break batters down might have made Hong Min-ki’s type of player stand out more.
Eventually, he’ll need to make it to the first team and perform, so that Kim Tae-hyung can keep his name in his mind. Hong’s challenges have always been injuries and pitches. His predecessor, 카지노사이트가이드 Larry Sutton, said, “When he came back to the mound, I congratulated myself. It was as good as winning the Korean Series.” Sutton followed Hong’s rehabilitation and congratulated him on his return to the mound, where he showed off his healthy and powerful pitches.
Now that he has completed his military service and still has a 150-kilometer fastball, Hong still has a lot of hurdles to clear. Still, he’s a rare left-hander for Lotte, and he’s quick to the ball, so it’s hard to ignore the appeal. Will he be able to overcome the injury risk and grow and develop as much as Kim Tae-hyung’s first impressions?