“Defending first base is a burden…”
Kim Seok-hwan (23), a left-handed hitting prospect for KIA, has played just four games for the first team this season. He didn’t really show much in those four games. He went 1-for-14 with a .071 batting average, two RBIs, one run scored, and a .204 OPS. He was criticized by SBS Sports commentator Lee Soon-cheol, who called the game, for not being able to handle the changeup.
Kim dominated the Futures League this year. After being promoted to the second team on June 3 against the Busan Lotte, Kim batted .307 with 18 home runs, 73 RBI, 48 runs scored, a .413 on-base percentage, a .573 slugging percentage, and a .986 OPS in 79 games in the Futures League.
He ranked first in home runs, first in RBI, third in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging percentage, eighth in on-base percentage, and tied for ninth in runs scored in the Futures League, which concluded on April 24. That’s in the Southern and Northern Leagues combined. Bombing in the Futures League is by no means a guarantee of success in the big leagues. There is a gap between them and the first team.
Still, it’s a bit curious that Kim Jong-kook hasn’t called up Kim Seok-hwan to the first team since June, despite his hot hitting. Furthermore, last year’s first baseman, Hwang Dae-in, has been bouncing between the first and second teams all season due to injuries and inconsistency, and Byun Woo-hyuk hasn’t been able to establish himself in the first team either.
After watching last year’s first baseman, Kim Seok-hwan’s opportunity seemed to open up, but it didn’t, and for good reason. Manager Kim Jong-kook said before the game against Changwon NC on the 26th, “Seok-hwan only played the outfield until high school. Last year, he briefly played first base in the first team, but in the Futures League, he didn’t play first base at the end.”
Coach Kim had him play first base to give him more opportunities, but he said he had trouble defending the position. “It’s hard to defend first base these days. There are many left-handed hitters who pull well. I need to do a better job defending first base.”
In fact, Kim had once praised Kim Seok-hwan for his height, saying that he could stabilize his defense at first base and instill confidence in his fellow infielders. However, the truth is that Kim Seok-hwan was burdened by his first base defense. “I only saw the outfield in the Futures League because I had a lot of pressure on my first base defense, and if it wasn’t for that, I could have made it to the first team sooner,” Kim said.
KIA doesn’t have a clear-cut first baseman, but its outfield depth is among the best in the 10 clubs. Despite the recent departures of Na Sung-beom, Choi Won-joon, and Choi Hyung-woo, the team has been able to hold on thanks to the presence of Socrates Brito, Lee Woo-sung, Lee Chang-jin, Ko Jong-wook, and Kim Ho-ryung. Choi Hyung-woo is a designated hitter when he’s healthy, so there are only six or seven outfielders who are either first-team starters or backups.
So even if Kim wanted to call up Kim Seok-hwan to the first team, he couldn’t do it. Even if he did, it would be difficult to give him a chance. Instead, Kim took the pressure off his defense by keeping him in the outfield, and it had a positive effect on his hitting.
Anyway, it’s time for the expanded roster. Hwang Dae-in’s slump led to a dramatic call-up to the first team on the 26th against Changwon NC. He also missed the game on the 26th, but with a doubleheader against Changwon NC on the 27th, he may get a chance to play.캡틴토토
“When the opportunity comes, I want him to take it easy, and he should take it when it comes in the first team,” Kim said. Many players who exploded onto the scene in the Future League didn’t do so through the first team, but they need to be given time to see if they can make it in the first team. It’s a five-way battle, but crisis is opportunity.