Born in 1999, 24 years old. Celebrating the Year of the Cat in 2023, rabbit year players are emerging as the center of Korean baseball.
Since last season, it has already risen to the center of Korean baseball. Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), who won the ‘two crowns’ with an average ERA and a strikeout king, even embraced the Golden Glove. Jeong Cheol-won (Doosan) became the rookie of the year with the youngest save record by a rookie. Kwak Bin (Doosan) and Kang Baek-ho (KT) proudly made their names on the 30-man roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) along with Jeong Cheol-won.
What they have in common is that they were nominated for the KBO draft in 2018, when they were in their third year of high school. It’s been 5 years since I joined the pro. Those who are celebrating their 6th year this year have grown steadily. At some point, he has solidified his position as a promising player who will be responsible for the next 10 years, either as the center of the team or as a backup like Altoran.
Jeong Eun-won (Hanwha) is also a rabbit. Born in 2000, he was named to Hanwha in 2018 and won the 2021 Second Baseman Golden Glove. He expected to be promoted to the WBC final entry, but was eliminated after being pushed by active major leaguer Thomas Hyeonsu Edman (St. Louis). Conversely, Korea’s first shortstop and second baseman Golden Glove winner Kim Hye-seong (Kiwoom) was born in 1999 and was nominated with Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) in 2017. Kim Hye-sung was selected for the WBC final list.
Kim Min (KT) was discharged from management and returned to the first team stage in the second half of last season. He threw 7.2 innings in six games, giving up two runs and posting an earned run average of 2.35. KT coach Lee Kang-cheol praised Kim Min’s development.
Lee Jae-won (LG) is appointed by Yeom Kyung-yeop as LG coach, and Kok Jib is the next-generation gun. He hit 13 homers in 85 appearances last year, posting a slugging percentage of 0.453. He is a big shot who can aim for more than 20 homers if the opportunity to play increases. He plans to delay enlisting in the military and contribute to the LG championship challenge this year.
Han Dong-hee (Lotte) is showing a steady rise with 14 homers and a batting average of 0.307 last year. He is considered the successor to Lee Dae-ho, who left Lotte at the end of last season. The only task remaining is to reduce defensive errors. 안전놀이터
In addition, there is Jung Woo-young (LG), a rookie born in 1999 who won the ‘Hold King’ last season as a rabbit star. He wore an LG uniform in 2019 after being suspended due to an injury before entering high school.
Three international competitions will be held this year. Including the WBC, the Hangzhou Asian Games and the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) await. In particular, the Asian Games and APBC have age restrictions, so 24-year-olds are expected to play an active role. Kwak Bin, Kim Min, Kang Baek-ho, and Han Dong-hee have worked together at the Baseball World Cup in 2017 through the under-18 youth national team. This is why the performance of the Neuvilles is expected more and more on the world stage, including the KBO League.