Among the highlights of the national baseball team winning the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games that closed on the 8th, the highlight was the final scene in the bottom of the 9th inning of the final match against Chinese Taipei.
With a 2-0 lead, they were driven to first and second base with one out. National team closer Go Woo-seok (LG) sent out two runners after a series of fastballs that penetrated the low border line were ruled balls. If even a home run was hit, the color of the medal could immediately change.
The follow-up hitter is Woo Nenting, who plays for the Save Lions of the Japanese professional baseball team. Go Woo-seok and Kim Hyeong-jun (NC) battery changed the ball combination. He threw three sliders in a row. While the first pitch slider missed the ball, he chose a slider again and caused a missed swing. Then, he stole the timing with another slider and got the final two outs with a double play with a grounder to second base.
In an interview last week, Kim Seong-geun, manager of the Monsters of ‘Best Baseball (JTBC)’, focused on this scene in which young catcher Kim Hyeong-jun, born in 1999, ordered three breaking balls in a row. While praising Go Woo-seok for throwing with confidence in his junior’s signature, the explanation was that there must have been a reason for the change in ball combination that was caught in Kim Hyeong-jun’s vision.
Kim Hyeong-jun, who faced the reporter before the Jamsil NC-Doosan game on the 12th, responded to a question about the ball combination at the time, saying, “It seemed like the batter was timing according to the fast ball. “When he saw that he was swinging and missing, he thought it would be okay to go for a slider again on the third pitch,” he explained.
Kim Hyeong-jun is one of the players who received a lot of attention during the national team selection process. This is because the national team, which basically selected players under the age of 25 but decided to select three wild cards under the age of 29, initially thought it would be natural to use one wild card to secure a starting catcher who would lead the entire young pitching team.
However, the choice was Kim Hyeong-jun. Key staff, including national team coach Ryu Joong-il and battery coach Kim Dong-soo, confidently selected Kim Hyeong-jun based on their observation of young players in the KBO League. In a very simple expression, the evaluation continued, “He is the best of his generation.”
The reason Kim Hyeong-jun receives praise from many baseball players seems to be because there is a clear reason why he uses his ball combination. Kim Hyeong-jun also confidently explained the background of the ball mixing in the final scene of the finals.
As baseball people often say, there is no right answer to ball mixing. This is because if there is a ‘correct answer’ that everyone can know, batters can also prepare for it. However, there must be an explainable reason for the catcher’s ball combination.
A baseball game begins with the catcher’s sign. The level of play is also reflected in the depth of each sign. This is because the vision and wisdom of the catcher, who must read the game situation, pitcher’s pace, batter’s characteristics, etc., are soon revealed through ball mixing. If this is excluded, only the ‘hardware battle’ of throwing, hitting, and running remains in baseball.
This national team, which gathered together with the topic of ‘generational change’, threw together the homework and hope of Korean baseball. One of the positive signs was that there was an opportunity for new catchers to emerge. The youngest among the starting catchers for the 10 teams in the KBO League this season is Yoo Kang-nam (Lotte),안전놀이터 born in 1992. NC also confirmed the potential of a top catcher prospect who will lead the home defense along with starting catcher Park Se-hyuk. Currently, Korean baseball is thirsty for catchers.