For Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles), who turns 20 on December 23, the 2023 season was his best year yet. He became the first pitcher in the Korean Baseball Organization to throw an official fastball over 160 mph (160.1 km/h) and the first Hanwha player since Ryu Hyun-jin to be named the league’s Most Valuable Rookie in 17 years. He made his professional debut last year, but only pitched 28⅔ innings for the first team due to injury and was eligible for rookie status. The KBO nominates players who have been in the league for five years or less, have pitched 30 innings, and have not had more than 60 at-bats.
It’s not just Rookie of the Year. At the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which were held a year later, Moon started the final game against Chinese Taipei and pitched well to win the gold medal. At such a young age, he has booked his place as the next ace of the national team. He was also recently named the official model for the 2024 season of the mobile baseball game Comptus Pro Baseball. He will be entering his third year of professional baseball next year, and we interviewed him several times to find out what he’s looking forward to next season.
“My personal goal is to complete a regulation inning”
What inspired you to start playing baseball?
“I always liked baseball. I fell in love with baseball while playing catch with my dad. I also loved playing baseball with my friends. Since I started playing baseball, I’ve never wanted to quit, which is why I love it so much.”
Did he have a favorite team?
“Growing up in Gwangju, I loved the Kia Tigers, and I watched a lot of Kia players when I was younger.” (He is from the prestigious Gwangju Jeongango baseball team, which included Lee Dae-jin, Yang Yang-ji, and Na Sung-beom.)
He switched to pitching in his freshman year of high school.
“I wasn’t very good at baseball. When I thought about my future, I thought it would be better to be a pitcher than a baseball player, so I switched to pitching with the encouragement of others.”
Because he started pitching later in life, he didn’t suffer as much as he did in the amateur ranks.
“I don’t think it doesn’t affect me. I’ve always been told that I have a beautiful throw from a young age. In my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I did Pilates to improve my flexibility and work on my small muscles. I’ve been lifting weights since my junior year.”헤라카지노
The Gwangju native got his chance to wear a Hanwha uniform when Kia selected infielder Kim Do-young from Gwangju Dongseong High School with the first pick in the rookie draft, and fans are curious about his relationship with Kim now.
“We get along well. We talk on the phone sometimes, and we went to the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) together. We have very different personalities, and I think that’s why we get along so well. Anyway, we’ll keep seeing each other in the national team.”
It’s hard not to talk about the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Her father (Jun-hsun Moon, head coach of the Changheung County Government Athletics Team) is also a national hammer thrower.
“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to wear the Taekwondo mark like him, and then I was selected to the national team and won gold. When I came home, my dad was very happy.”