‘Hit a home run and save’ Kiwoom’s newcomer’s big dream “Happiness just by trying”
He promised to become the first professional pitcher in the KBO League. Like Shohei Ohtani of Major League Baseball (MLB), he dreams of becoming the best in both positions by digesting training in pitching and fielding teams from camp. Kiwoom 2023 Rookie Draft 1st round nominated rookie Kim Geon-hee (19) took the starting point of a great challenge.
I’ve been special since high school. Last year, when he was a junior, Kim Gun-hee posted an average ERA of 1.32 in 9 games and 13.2 innings as a pitcher, and a batting average of 0.378, 1 home run, 9 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.062 in 16 games as a hitter while playing mainly as a catcher. Looking at the proportion of appearances, he seemed likely to play as a fielder in the pro league, but scouts from professional clubs gave different evaluations. Some scouts highly rated catcher Geon-Hee Kim, and others believed that Geon-Hui Kim’s potential as a pitcher was superior. Because he throws a heavy ball at 148 km/h, if he plays as a pitcher in a pro, he predicts that he will grow into a high-quality finisher who will be responsible for the team’s back door in the future.
The choice of Kiwoom, who nominated Kim Kun-hee as the 6th overall, was ‘both’. Kim Gun-hee, who is currently attending his first spring camp after joining the pros, digests both pitcher and fielder training with Jang Jae-young. He says that he trains twice as much as others, but he enjoys it.
After training at Salt River Field in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA on the 4th (Korean time), Kim Gun-hee said, “Basically, in the beginning, we train in the pitching tank. If he’s like today, he started with catch balls in the pitching team, then defensive drills as a first baseman, then batting drills. He finished the day’s schedule with reinforcement training at the end.”
Regarding becoming first baseman instead of catcher, which was his main position in high school, he said, “I do have my heart for catcher on one side. But he sees that he’s better at first base than catcher for this because he now both pitches and hits. The team also tells me, ‘Don’t you have feelings for the catcher?’, but I want to put the catcher on one side and focus on the first baseman and pitcher.”
It is a formidable challenge. Considering the level difference between amateurs and pros, it is difficult to be good at just one position. Kim Kun-hee also said that it was not easy to digest the unfamiliar first baseman position. He said, “When I watch my seniors during defense training, I can only admire them. As such, my current defense has a lot to improve on. “I have just started training, so I have to train a lot,” he said. I am also confident in my catcher experience,” he laughed.
As a pitcher, my goal is to finish. Kim Gun-hee said, “I didn’t throw a lot as a starter during my amateur days. He usually played the role of blocking about one inning,” he said. “There are so many things to prepare for starting. The coach also said that it would be better to block one inning with confidence rather than start. He told me that he could overwhelm the hitter enough. I also have the idea that I want to succeed as a middle pitcher and, if possible, as a finishing pitcher.”
I know it casts suspicious glances from the outside. But he is not willing to give up easily. Kim Kun-hee said, “In fact, when he was nominated as a pro, he only knew how to pitch. However, the general manager, coaches, and coaches all agreed to double-tapping. As the director told me through the media that it’s up to me to do it, I think I need to work harder. Because they let me do what I want, I will go to camp with a sense of responsibility.” 메이저사이트
His role model is, of course, Shohei Ohtani. In addition to this, as a pitcher, Jeong Min-cheol, MBC Sports Plus commentator, team senior Ahn Woo-jin, and KT Kang Baek-ho as a hitter are role models. Kim Gun-hee said, “I really want to be good at both pitcher and hitter. Of course, there is no certainty that it will succeed. Still, I’m happy just trying to double-task like this. Isn’t it possible to open your eyes to baseball that much because you play two positions? Think positive rather than negative. And I am very grateful to the club for allowing me to do this.”
Director Kiwoom Hong Won-gi said of Kim Gun-hee and Jang Jae-young, who are training for both pitching and batting at camp, “We are leaving all possibilities open. Right now, the focus is on seeing how the two players train, but once the season starts, you can double as a pitcher.”
It’s not just a show. If successful, it will be the process of becoming the first professional pitching player. If Kiwoom and Kim Kun-hee’s dream comes true, a rare scene will be created in which they hit a home run in one game and then save as a finisher in the ninth inning.