The competition for the 2023 KBO League Rookie Award is hotter than ever. Players who show off their presence appear every week.
A total of 14 new players are included in the opening entry for this season. 3 more than last season. Even this was a number that Kim Seo-hyun (19, Hanwha Eagles) and Yoon Young-chul (19, KIA Tigers), who were first and second overall in the rookie draft, were not registered.
From the opening series, Lee Tae-yeon (19), a rookie pitcher from the left-hander of the Lotte Giants, became the second pitcher in both consecutive matches against the Doosan Bears and completed the mission without conceding a run, drawing attention. Infielder Moon Hyun-bin (19), who joined the Hanwha Eagles after being nominated in the second round, also started from the opening game and reported his first professional debut hit as a triple.
Last month, Hanwha’s ‘Fireballer Duo’ Moon Dong-ju (20) and Kim Seo-hyun received the most attention. Moon Dong-joo, who has been in the team for 2 years, thrilled baseball fans by recording the highest speed (160.1 km/h) by a Korean pitcher in a game against KIA on April 12. He was also good enough to record an earned run average of 2.38 in the four games he appeared in April. He only digested 28 and 2/3 innings last season (2022), meeting the criteria for newcomer candidates (pitching less than 30 innings). Kim Seo-hyun, who started as a bullpen pitcher, also showed a performance worthy of a super rookie by throwing fastballs approaching 160km/h with ease.
Park Myeong-geun (19), a sidearm pitcher for the LG Twins, is already expected to be a closer pitcher. LG coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop highly praised his distribution and said, “He is a pitcher who will take over the Pilseungjoo for more than 15 years.” On the 9th, Park Myeong-geun made the mound in the first inning of the 9th inning, when the score was tied 0-0 against Kiwoom Heroes, and Lee Jung-hoo, the league’s representative batter, handled a fly ball in left field and blocked one inning without conceding a run. In the third game on the 11th, he saved a 1-0 victory.
SSG Landers Song Young-jin (19) and Yoon Young-cheol have been in the starting lineup for their team since their debut season. Song Young-jin recorded an average ERA of 3.95 with 3 wins and no losses in 7 games (5 starts), and Yoon Young-cheol recorded an average ERA of 4.30 with 1 win and 1 loss in 5 games. It is evaluated that both pitchers are quickly adapting to the professional stage as they go on the mound. If you consistently digest the starting rotation, you will have a lot of opportunities to appeal.
Among the fielders, Lotte outfielder Kim Min-seok (19), who is expected to be the ‘second Lee Jung-hoo’, is attracting the most attention. While starting player Seongbin Hwang left due to an injury to his left index finger, he gained many opportunities to play. He has a batting average of 0.229 this season, but has been flying high, recording 0.324 in the last 10 games. He’s been playing leadoff lately.
Kim Dong-heon (19), catcher in the second round of the Kiwoom Heroes, is also a dark horse. As of the 15th, he took charge of 15 games as a starting catcher, which is difficult for a new player to do. Foreign pitcher Eric Yokishi is in charge. Both pitcher lead and defense basics are evaluated as mature unlike a rookie.
Third-year pitchers Kim Dong-ju (21, Doosan Bears) and Lee Yong-joon (21, NC Dinos), who met the requirements for rookie of the year, also recorded an average ERA of 1.44 and 1.53, respectively, contributing to the team’s starting lineup. 먹튀검증
The rookie award was received by a pitcher for the last 4 consecutive seasons (2019-2022). The record of the ‘pure rookie’ award, which lasted from Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) in the 2017 season to Lee Eui-ri (KIA) in the 2021 season, was put on hold last season when ‘used rookie’ Jeong Cheol-won (Doosan) received it. This season is more unpredictable.