The ‘500 million’ rookie fireballer faces a choice…starter or bullpen?

The ‘500 million’ rookie fireballer faces a choice…starter or bullpen?

The second year for Hanwha rookie Kim Seohyun, a 160-kilometer fireballer, will be one of starting or bullpen.

Kim was selected by Hanwha with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Korean Baseball Entry Draft. Hanwha signed him to a 500 million won contract, recognizing his unlimited potential.온라인바카라

After spring training and exhibition games, Kim did not make the opening day roster and began the season in the Futures League. Hanwha used him as a bullpen pitcher in the second team. He quickly adapted and made his professional debut on April 19 against Doosan in Daejeon, where he pitched a one-hit, two-strikeout perfect game. His top velocity in his debut was 157.9 kilometers according to the KBO’s official PTS and 160.1 kilometers according to the Trackman system used by Hanwha.

Throwing a fastball close to 160 kilometers, Kim seemed to adjust well to the professional stage, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 14 games through the end of May while pitching out of the bullpen.

Hanwha pitcher Kim Seo-hyun / OSEN DB

However, he struggled against Doosan on June 7, giving up two runs on one hit and one walk in ⅓ inning, and was sent down to the second team the next day. He stayed in the second team for about two months, making a few starts, before returning to the first team on August 10.

However, on August 11, he gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in 2⅔ innings against Doosan. On August 17, he made his first start for the first team against the NC and struggled, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings. He was sent down to the second team again as his strikeouts increased significantly and he was unable to control his pitches.

Seo-hyun Kim realized the barriers of the professional stage with a 16.88 ERA in June (4 games, 2⅔ innings, 5 runs) and a 13.50 ERA in August (2 games, 4⅔ innings, 7 runs). He was a consistent starter in the second team and had a chance to make a temporary start in the first team in September, but was unable to take advantage of a rainout.

Hanwha Eagles’ Kim Seo-hyun reacts after giving up a run in the first inning in his first professional start against the NC on August 17. / OSEN DB

Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho commented on Kim’s retention on Aug. 24 at Jamsil Stadium, referring to the development of set-up men. “We’ll have to decide which position (Kim) should be in during the final camp, but if it’s determined that young players like Kim Seo-hyun, Park Joon-young, and Kim Kyu-yeon, who have some fastball velocity, are better in the bullpen than in the starting rotation, they should be developed (into the bullpen),” Choi said. The starting staff includes young pitchers such as Moon Dong-ju, who throws 160 kilometers, Han Seung-ju and Nam Ji-min.

Moon played in the bullpen in the first team and has started nine games in the second team since June. The Futures League is now over. Choi plans to bring Seo-hyun Kim up to the first team at the end of the season to give him a chance to pitch once or twice.

“We need to develop our set-up men,” Choi said. “Lee Min-woo hasn’t even pitched since he came up, but Lee Min-woo, Jang Si-hwan, Joo Hyun-sang, these guys are getting older, in their mid-30s. Si-hwan is going to be in his late 30s,” he said of the need to develop a young bullpen.

“It’s not easy to find set-up men if you don’t have a bullpen. Yoon Dae-kyung is in his late 20s, but his (fastball) can be dangerous if it drops a little bit. Recently, when Jang Si-hwan is not doing well, Gyu Yeon-i has been doing a good job. Park Yoon-chul is okay, but he throws a lot of fastballs. He has a good changeup and curve, but he doesn’t throw a lot of changeups, just fastballs.”

Kim’s decision will come as Hanwha plans to develop its bullpen with fastball pitchers.

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