“It’s amazing.”

Kim Min-seok (20, Lotte Giants) returned home via Incheon International Airport after a five-day spring training trip.

The trip took him to Guam and Okinawa, Japan. While he spent last year in camp as a rookie, this year he spent time as a more mature player.

Last year, Kim Min-seok showed that he had the potential to succeed in the first team. He was drafted in the first round (3rd overall) and was given consistent opportunities, and in 129 games, he batted .652 with 16 HR, 39 doubles, 39 RBI, 53 runs scored, and a .652 OPS. He stole over 100 bases in his first year.

“The first camp I went to, I didn’t know anything. I think I trained without a purpose. This year, I went to camp knowing that last year was not good, so I trained with a purpose, and the time went by faster because of that.”

Kim continued, “I tried to improve both my offense and defense. First of all, I tried to use less movement in my batting. I tried to keep my gaze steady because if I move a lot, it consumes more energy and changes the way I look at the ball. I also spent a lot of time one-on-one with coach Yoo Jae-shin, such as receiving outfield punches and taking extras.”

This season, Lotte hired Kim Tae-hyung, the “championship hitter,” as manager. Kim led the Doosan Bears to seven consecutive Korean Series titles from 2015 to 2021.

Kim is a manager with a strong charisma. He wants his batters to be aggressive. “I don’t think the atmosphere was much different than last year because we’re the same professional team, but I think we had a strong focus,” says Kim. “I heard that he hates it when batters don’t see the hit sign on a three-ball or two-ball. I don’t think he’d be happy if I didn’t take a swing at a three-ball and it was an out.”

This year, the KBO has a new “mega-pitcher” in the league. Ryu Hyun-jin, who played in the Major Leagues from 2013 to last year, returned to the Hanwha Eagles.

Ryu has been labeled as a “different class” as he has shown stable pitches in both bullpen and live pitching. Ryu is scheduled to pitch in two exhibition games on April 7 after the team’s own Blue-Black Game. They are against KIA and Lotte.

“When I was in elementary school, I saw Ryu Hyun-jin’s starting pitching on TV on my way to school, so I was intrigued. He said he was going to pitch in two exhibition games, and there was a game against Lotte. If I were to pitch in a game, I would like to pitch against him once and hit well,” he said, “I want to be the starter.”

What does Kim Min-seok think a “major leaguer Ryu Hyun-jin” would look like? “The first thing that comes to mind is him coming up to bat and hitting a home run,” Kim laughs.

Ryu is a pitcher in the major leagues with a career record of 78-48 with a 3.27 ERA in 186 games and 1055⅓ innings pitched. But he also had a talent for hitting, batting fourth in the lineup at Dongsan High School, and in the 메이저토토사이트 National League, where he also pitched, he batted 1-for-7 in 188 games. The moment he remembers was on Sept. 23, 2019, against Colorado. Down 0-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Kim lined a 151-mile-per-hour fastball from Colorado starter Antonio Sensatella over the right-center field fence.

During spring training, Kim has consistently been used as a table-setter. “The No. 1 and No. 2 roles are different, but No. 1 is a role that requires a lot of runs anyway, and if I bat No. 2, I think it’s easier to hit between 1-2 when the No. 1 hitter is out. There’s a lot of space there, so I’m thinking of utilizing it a lot.”

As for his season goals, Kim Min-seok said, “I think the first thing is to manage my physical fitness. I think the key is to overcome the slump in my batting as well, because it’s a good team to break the losing streak quickly. I’m thinking that I won’t be in my place until the season starts, so I’m trying to win the competition.” “Even if the result is an out, I’m trying to hit at my own timing. I want my timing to be consistent and not change from day to day,” he said.


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