AG without Lee Jung-hoo, is there a ‘second Lee Jung-hoo’?

The growth of Lotte High School rookie outfielder Kim Min-seok (19) is frightening. He has been gaining experience since the beginning of the season and has been swinging the bat with fire in the second half. He’s not called “the next Lee Jung-hoo” or “Lee Jung-hoo’s successor” for nothing.

Kim Min-seok, the third overall pick in the first round of the 2023 KBO Draft, has really hit his stride lately. Since the All-Star break, he’s batting .529 (9-for-17) with three doubles and three RBIs as of June 26. His July batting average is also on the rise at .395. His season batting average, which was just 2-for-5 until earlier this month, has risen to .280. It’s the highest among Lotte hitters with regular at-bats.

Kim Min-seok’s hitting talent has been evident since his days at Whimun High School. Last year, as a high school senior, he hit .544 and won the Lee Young-min batting award, which is given to the best hitter. “When I went to practice at school (in the offseason), the coach told me that (Kim) was good, so I thought, ‘He’s going to be good,'” Lee said. The advice from his role model, who is six years his senior, was a big motivator. “(Lee) Jung-hoo often came to (school) to cheer me on,” Kim recalled, “and he always said, ‘You’ll do better than me.'”

Lee Jung-hoo and Kim Min-seok share many similarities. They went to the same school, have similar physiques, and are right-handed batters. The “genius hitters,” who were infielders until high school, were drafted by their respective professional teams and switched to the outfield. As rookies, they were both selected to the “Best 12” and played in the All-Star Game.

For Kim Min-seok, who hopes to follow in Lee’s footsteps, the ultimate honor is the Taegeuk Mark. Lee, one of the biggest stars in Korean baseball, underwent ankle surgery that effectively ruled him out of the Hangzhou Asian Games. He is expected to spend three months in surgery and rehabilitation, making it difficult for him to return before the Games kick off in late September.

Luckily, Kim Min-seok, who plays the same position as Lee in center field, has been hitting well and has emerged as a possible replacement. The key is whether he can maintain his batting pace until the roster change. It is reported that the national team’s power enhancement committee will observe the situation in the second half as much as possible before making a change.

Kim Min-seok, as well as teammates Yoon Dong-hee and Samsung’s Kim Hyun-jun, are among the favorites for Lee’s spot. Based on the principle of selecting a maximum of three players per team, Lotte and Samsung currently have two players each, leaving one spot open.

Second-year player Yoon Dong-hee has been getting his chance since May and is batting .308 with two home runs, 23 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Third-year player Kim Hyun-jun also got off to a slow start this season due to injury, but since joining the first team on May 19, he’s batting .313 with two home runs, 16 RBIs and 26 runs scored. He also has the experience of playing full-time last year. According to the Asian Baseball Confederation rules, the Asian Games roster can replace injured players until the last minute.안전놀이터

Meanwhile, Lee Jung-hoo underwent a successful surgery at a hospital in Seoul on Sunday. Lee, who is scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on the 29th, posted on his social networking site, “The surgery went well,” and added, “Thank you to the fans for their concern and support. I will recover quickly and be back on the field

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