In the spring of 2023, the hero of the giant army is Na Kyun-an (25, Lotte Giants). He posted 3 wins (8 losses, 2 holds, ERA of 3.98) while throwing 117 and 2/3 innings last year, going back and forth between starters and middle pitches, and is already recording two wins this season.
Both were significant victories. Na Kyun-an started the second game against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on the 2nd and was responsible for Lotte’s first win of the season with 5 hits and no runs in 6 2/3 innings. In the next game against the KT Wiz held at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 9th, he led a 5-3 victory with 4 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, and a perfect pitch in 7 innings. Lotte, who gave up two games first in the home opening series, won its first home game of the season thanks to Na Kyun-ahn’s good pitch.
Joa Pharmaceuticals and this magazine selected Na Gyun-an as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) for the first week of April. During this period, he tied for first place in wins (2 wins) and ERA (0.00), and ranked second in innings pitched. Na Kyun-an said, “I’ve never received an award like this since I joined the pros. I’m confused.”
Na Kyun-an is emerging as Lotte’s ace. From the opening until the 11th, the average ERA of the Lotte starters, excluding Na Kyun-an, reached 6.04. He laughed, saying, “The team was sluggish and the atmosphere was not good, but it helped to win. It feels good to provide an opportunity to change the atmosphere.”
Na Gyun-an was the last member of Lotte to join the rotation. Dan Straley, Charlie Barnes, Park Se-woong, and Han Hyun-hee were pre-determined, and they won the competition with Kim Jin-wook and Seo Jun-won (released). And I was notified of the selection for the second match of the opening. Na Kyun-an looked back, saying, “I was so shocked when I heard about this from the coaching staff. I thought it might be an opportunity that I will never get again. I prepared more than others.”
Na Kyun-ahn climbs the mound with a grit for survival.
He was a catcher prospect who joined in the 2nd round of 2017 with the 3rd overall pick. Lotte, who sent Kang Min-ho to the Samsung Lions, regarded him as the next-generation main catcher. However, it was very disappointing not only in defense, which is the basic of a catcher, but also in hitting (0.123 batting average in 416 at-bats). The arrows of criticism were directed at Na Kyun-an.
During the 2020 spring camp, while recovering from a fractured wrist bone, he attempted to become a pitcher at the suggestion of Lotte general manager Seong Min-gyu. He even changed his name from Na Jong-deok to Na Gyun-an. he was a great success
He looked back, “It was very difficult when I was playing as a catcher. Baseball was not going my way. It was a really tough decision to put down the catcher equipment I had worn for over 10 years and change positions.” Na Kyun-an added, “I had a poison. My mindset and attitude have changed.”
Due to his frequent appearances last year, Na Kyun-an earned the nickname ‘Tto-Kyun-an’. He accepted it positively, saying, “I got a lot of opportunities, and it means that the fans are thinking about (my health).” When he thinks of his tough days as a catcher, he is acutely aware of how great the bench’s trust and fans’ support are.
Na Kyun-an is considered a successful case of position conversion. He mastered 6 pitches in a short period of time.먹튀검증 His coaches and teammates were amazed. Rather, he boldly abandoned the two-seam fastball and changeup to ‘clean up traffic.’ 9.41 strikeouts per 9 innings last year. Among pitchers who threw more than 100 innings, it was the second most after Kiwoom Heroes An Woo-jin (10.29), who became the king of strikeouts.
This season has grown one step further. After receiving a passing score with an ERA of 3.33 in nine starts since August of last year, he pitched no ERA in both games this year. On the 2nd, against Doosan, he pitched his first personal triple-digit pitch, and on the 9th, he played the most innings in a single game with 83 balls. He emphasized, “Last year, when the number of pitches increased, my strength decreased, but this year, I prepared a lot in terms of physical strength.”