“I don’t lose to Junseo for direct ball”… ‘152km bang!’ Monstrous rookie overwhelmed even the Japanese home run king

Doosan Bears right-hander Kim Taek-yeon (19) is one of the most notable rookies of the year. After graduating from Incheon High School, Kim Taek-yeon joined Doosan as the second overall pick in the first round of the 2024 Rookie Draft. Doosan ranked ninth, the lowest ever since its foundation in 2022, but thanks to this, it is smiling happily as it gained a monster rookie named Kim Taek-yeon. Kim Taek-yeon is expected to fiercely compete with Hwang Joon-seo (19), a left-hander who wore the Hanwha Eagles uniform, as the first overall pick in the first round.핑크알바

Kim Taek-yeon and Hwang Joon-seo are in a completely different direction from each other. After checking Kim’s outstanding fastball pitching, ball control, and courage, Doosan is trying to raise him as the next closer. Like other high school aces, Kim Taek-yeon threw a lot of balls when he was an amateur player and needed management, so he is preparing for his debut season by focusing on the bullpen instead of starting. Doosan internally evaluates Kim Taek-yeon as an instant manager, but some say that he is capable of managing crises while playing practice games, and that he can secure a must-win group and even a closer at once.

Hanwha is preparing to raise Hwang as a starting pitcher right away. Starting this year, the team is competing to become the fifth starting pitcher. In mid-April, the Hanwha Eagles recruited veteran left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin, who is the original monster, for a total of 17 billion won (approximately 17 billion won) for eight years, providing him with a good role model. Hwang is expected to grow fast as he absorbs the benefits of Ryu up close.

Kim Taek-yeon has been consistently competing with Hwang Joon-seo since the rookie draft. The order of nomination was pushed back by Kim Taek-yeon, but the down payment is the same at 350 million won. The two players were also listed side by side on the Team Korea preliminary list to play against the U.S. Major League Baseball teams San Diego Padres and LA Dodgers at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 17th and 18th. Just because the two players, who have not even made their professional debut, are on the preliminary list shows how much they appreciate their potential in the baseball world.

Kim was taking the rivalry with Hwang as positive. “I think it will be good stimulus for each other. It will be good if we do well together,” Kim said with a smile when he met with the Japanese Softbank Hawks ahead of a practice match at Paypay Dome in Fukuoka, Japan on Tuesday. Before moving to Japan, Kim also met with Hwang at the airport and talked to each other. They asked each other how they had been doing and if they were doing well in their respective teams. “We have met each other a lot since we were a youth national team, and it would be great to play in professional leagues together from now on.”

They are close friends, but I have no intention of giving up the Rookie of the Year award. “Of course, my goal is to win the Rookie of the Year award. I want to win at least the Rookie of the Year award,” Kim said, showing his ambition. “If I become a member of the first team, I think I should do well in every game. Then the results will follow.”

What are the advantages of Hwang Joon-seo that Kim Taek-yeon watched? “I think Jun-seo is a left-handed pitcher, but he can throw balls up to 150 kilometers per hour. He has good ball control, and I think breaking balls are more attractive because he throws unfamiliar breaking balls to left-handed pitchers like splitters. His ability to manage games and things like that have been outstanding since he was a sophomore in high school, so I think he will do well even in professional baseball.”

When asked to give Hwang a strength that he can say, “I’m confident that I won’t be pushed behind at least this one thing,” he did not hesitate to pick up his fastball. “I’m confident that I won’t lose at least one fastball. My fastball control, ball power and speed are all similar, but my biggest strength is my fastball,” Kim Taek-yeon said.

Kim Taek-yeon boasted his outstanding fastball pitching throughout the practice game during the spring camp. It was early March, but his speed had already risen to 152 kilometers and he showed excellent control enough to boldly put it in his body. It was formed between 2450 and 2550 RPM of direct ball rotation. On this day, most Softbank bullpen pitchers recorded more than 2,500 RPM of their fastballs. Pitchers who are 19 years younger than KBO boast comparable ball power compared to Japanese pitchers who are considered one level higher.

Yang Eui-ji, Doosan’s homemaker, said, “Kim Taek-yeon reminds me of Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions) who boasts 400 saves.” Yang Eui-ji praised Kim, saying, “(Kim Taek-yeon) doesn’t look like a 19-year-old, but just hits his ball like Seung-hwan. I think he is the best pitcher I have seen recently among rookies.”

“The manager said a lot that (Kim) Taek-yeon should be a closer (I think he’s worried), so I think so, too. You’re a rookie, but the person who’s good at it is the closer. You’re competitive enough. Doosan will be strong because the club has selected good players. I hope you do well because you’re still young and you’re a player who can grow up well and go to big stages if you have a chance,” he said.

Kim also showed off his outstanding crisis management ability against the Softbank slugger. He pitched in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs and runners on the first and second bases, when his team was losing 1-3, and pitched well in the first ⅓ innings with 15 no hits, no hits, no walks and no strikeouts. His maximum fastball speed reached 152 kilometers, and he tested breaking balls, including curves and sliders, showing his relaxation that was not like a rookie. Doosan lost 2-5, but Kim’s pitch was enough to wow Doosan fans who came to Fukuoka.

The most impressive performance was the showdown with Hotaka Yamakawa, the first batter. Yamakawa is a three-time home run champion in the NPB and also contributed to Japan’s victory in the World Baseball Classic last year. Kim met Yamakawa, the fourth batter, at a critical moment, and handled the game with two single balls as a catcher’s foul fly, causing turbulence in the stadium.

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