Monday, 22nd April 2024

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Kim Taek-yeon and Hwang Jun-seo are very lucky…I wonder how much they will grow

Ryu Jung-il, head coach of the South Korean national baseball team, praised rookies Kim Taek-yeon and Hwang Jun-seo for showing uncharacteristic composure against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

South Korea lost 2-5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a special match of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series at the Gocheok SkyDome in Seoul on April 18.

Despite giving up five runs to the Dodgers on the day, South Korea still managed to put together a solid performance, including a two-run rally in the third inning to briefly take the lead.

It was the top of the sixth inning that caught the fans’ attention. Manager Ryu Jung-il sent Kim Taek-yeon to the mound. Kim showed off his four-seam fastball, which he used to dominate major leaguers. He struck out leadoff hitter Teoscar Hernandez with one fastball and one curveball, and got James Outman to ground out on a full count.

Kim was then relieved, and Hwang Jun-seo took over on the mound. The left-hander remained calm, throwing strikes from the first pitch and striking out Miguel Vargas.

The two players are the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2024 rookie draft. Hwang Jun-seo was selected by the Hanwha Eagles with the first pick, and Kim Taek-yeon was selected by the Doosan Bears with the second pick. The two rookies will be making their KBO debuts this season.

After the game, manager Ryu Jung-il said, “The players did a good job in both games. The pitchers were surprisingly good. It was great to see (Kim) Taek-yeon and (Hwang) Jun-seo pitch in front of a lot of people and against big league players. I can’t wait to see how they develop in the league. They did a great job,” he said.

Kim, who also attended the press conference, recalled, “I was very nervous. But after I threw the first pitch, it came loose and became my first pitch. “I thought about throwing my pitches rather than who the batter was, and it worked out well,” he said, adding, “I threw it with the idea of experimenting with my pitches (when the four-seam fastball went to the middle of the plate, leading to a false swing by the opposing batter), and I think the false swing came because I was in a favorable situation. It was great to be able to play with good pitching brothers and major league pitchers through this game,” he said.

Ryu will now turn his attention to preparing for the 2024 WBSC Premier 12 in November. South Korea, the inaugural winners of the tournament, finished as runners-up in the 2019 edition.

For the third edition of the tournament, they are aiming to come out on top once again. Ryu Jung-il said, “After the start of the KBO League, we will continue to check the players’ physical condition by traveling to each team. I think the pitchers have been good through the first two games, but I’m worried that the batting lineup is not strong enough, so I’ll talk to the Power Enhancement Committee to discuss the squad’s structure.”

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