The depth has only gotten deeper, and they even got an unexpected gem.
The KIA Tigers selected a total of 10 players (excluding trades for second-round picks) in the first through 11th rounds of the 2024 KBO First-Year Player Draft on Thursday at the Westin Chosun Hotel Grand Ballroom in Sogong, Seoul. Seven pitchers were selected, including Gangneung High ace Cho Dae-hyun, who stands at 6-foot-3 and throws a 151-kilometer fastball, as well as catcher Lee Sang-joon (Gyeonggi High) and infielders Kang Min-je (Gunsan Sangil High) and Kim Doo-hyun (Dongwon University).
KIA is considered to be the most evenly matched team among the KBO’s 10 clubs with a variety of pitching types, including left, right, and side arms. The team is known as a “pitching kingdom” for its depth in both the starting and bullpen. Since last year, the team has opened a pitching academy in Hampyeong to foster the development of promising pitchers. This time, they chose to make their pitching depth even thicker.
“We brought all seven pitchers we wanted to select,” said Shim. “We were able to get Cho Dae-hyun in the first round as planned,” he said, “and Lee Sang-joon (the third-round pick) was actually expected to go to another team in the previous round, but we were able to get him because the order came around. “We wanted to get a pitcher with good velocity in the upper rounds and a player with good defense and quickness in the outfield in the later rounds.” “We’re looking at him from a long-term perspective rather than as an immediate first-team resource,” he said of the first-round pick. “Just like Yang Hyun-jong made his debut in 2007 and grew slowly, (Cho) will grow into a very good player if he is nurtured through our development system.” As for Lee Sang-joon, he said, “He has a lot of potential as a big catcher. When I saw him in person, he has a throwing ability that is comparable to a professional player. We have high expectations that he will grow very quickly if we strengthen his defense.”안전놀이터
“We wanted to select the type of player that can be developed into a starter, including pitchers, which we planned before the draft, and we were able to get a good catcher,” said Kwon Yoon-min, head of the power planning team at KIA. “We are overall satisfied that we were able to select an infield resource with multiple abilities and power.” “We have a coaching staff in place now, both in the first team and in the Futures, that sees the best in young players. We focused on finding resources that would maximize that,” he said. “We wanted to find players who were well rounded in terms of character as well as skill, and we did.”