‘It’s not 100% yet… ‘ KIA new face, strong first impression against the WBC national team
The first impression is good. He confidently stood up to the national team even though his physical condition was inevitably declining. If the two are active, KIA’s expected ranking will naturally rise. This is the story of KIA rookie pitcher Yoon Young-chul (19) and infielder Byeon Woo-hyuk (23) who joined the KIA through a trade.
On the 20th (Korean time), Yoon Young-cheol and Byeon Woo-hyuk played against the national team at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) held at the Tucson Kino Complex in Arizona, USA. Yoon Young-cheol got on the mound in the top of the 3rd inning and gave up 2 runs in 2 innings. Byun Woo-hyuk played as the 7th hitter and 3rd baseman and recorded 1 hit and 1 RBI in 5 at-bats, including a home run.
As this is the first real match this year, a struggle was expected. Unlike the national team players who quickly increased their pace from the off-season, it is a burden for ordinary professional players to play in practice at this point. Nonetheless, both players showed their strengths.
Yoon Young-cheol, who was nominated as the second overall pick in the 2023 rookie draft, used all pitches against the national team seniors that day. His condition did not improve to the point where his fastball maximum speed was only 136 km/h, but he tried to take away the timing by constantly changing the type of pitch.
After the game, Yoon Young-cheol said, “It was his first real match in his professional debut, so he was very nervous, but senior Han Seung-taek gave a good lead.” Still, when he got on the mound, he had an urge to get an out. Looking at the seniors of the national team, he felt that he wanted to be in that position, and now that feeling has grown stronger.”
He continued, “It is regrettable that the first pitch strike rate was low. Still, I think my strengths are my control, the ability to use breaking balls, and the less mental side,” he said. If given the opportunity, I really want to be a starting pitcher, and if I go around the starting rotation, I want to increase the number of wins bit by bit,” he revealed his goal for his first season.
Byun Woo-hyuk fired a solo shot over the left fence against his teammate Lee Eui-ri at the bottom of the 7th inning. He said, “It’s my first real match in six months and I have to deal with good pitchers, so I came into the game with the thought of seeing a lot of balls without being greedy.” 안전놀이터
Regarding the moment of the home run, “I felt like I was being dragged by the opposing pitcher until the third at-bat. Since he was retiring after striking out in his third at-bat, he sought advice from coach Lee Beom-ho. He said the coach said, ‘He seems to be running after the ball. He gave the advice, ‘let’s hit with the center a bit further back,’ and contact was made well from the next at-bat. The home run seems to have led to a good result by thinking about coach Lee Bum-ho’s advice and hitting the lost pitch. As soon as he was hit, he had the feeling that he was passed over,” he looked back.
Byun Woo-hyuk, who joined Hanwha as the first nomination in 2019, transferred to KIA through a trade last winter. The KIA needed Byun Woo-hyuk with the potential of a right-hander, and Byun Woo-hyuk is proving that KIA’s expectations were not wrong at the camp. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk said of Byun Woo-hyuk, “It is better than I thought. He also plays third base, but he sees himself as a first baseman. He competes with Hwang Dae-in and Kim Seok-hwan.”
The more good players there are, the better. This is especially true for KIA, which has a weak depth. Coach Kim Jong-guk, who said, “I hope I get some stress while planning the lineup this year,” is also in the strong player base. Yoon Young-cheol is the starting lineup, and Byeon Woo-hyuk is the wild card.