“I’m looking forward to next year” 24-year-old first-round pick continues to grow, Kia woes fade away

“I’m looking forward to next year”.

Kia Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook is pleased with the rapid growth of 24-year-old catcher Han Jun-soo. Han has been serving as the backup catcher behind Kim Tae-gun, who was acquired in a trade on June 26 with a call-up to the first team. He was a first-round pick in 2018 but didn’t play much and returned to the team this year after serving in the military until last year.

In 2019, he appeared in seven games and 20 at-bats for the first team. He started this year with the Futures team and was a developmental player. With Han Seung-taek Joo Hyo-sang in the first team and newcomer Kim Sun-woo in the Future Team, it wasn’t easy being a catcher, but as he got more playing time in the Future Team, he made his presence felt and made the leap from developmental player to first team regular.

In the first team, he showed his solid physique (184cm, 95kg), solid defense, and talent with the bat. He is learning every day in training and gradually gaining more playing time and experience. He never showed any signs of nervousness and his relaxed play was impressive. It was a strong heart for a catcher who played only seven games until the 2022 season.

Coach Kim Jong-kook, who watched Han Joon-soo when he enlisted in the army, remembered, “He seemed to have neglected self-care. He was very fat,” he remembers. But during his military service, he realized how desperate he was to play baseball and made a superhuman effort to lose 25 kilograms. As he began to show his talent on the field, as well as his diligent training and learning attitude in the first team, expectations were raised.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect much. I gained experience with the Futures team this year and looked forward to next year or the year after. I was in good shape after returning, and I managed well, so I joined the first team and showed good form. The need was much greater than when he joined the team. This is his chance, and he knows he has to do well.”안전놀이터

“I’m working with Yoon Young-chul (as the designated catcher), but if I switch with Kim Tae-gun a little bit, he will play. He’s done a good job with the other catchers. He still lacks first-team experience, but his hitting and defense have improved a lot. I’m looking forward to not only this season but also next season. We need to manage injuries well.”

Han Jun-soo’s emergence is positive in many ways. The team has been without a franchise catcher since Kim Sang-hoon retired. It’s been a major weakness, which is why they traded for Park Dong-won last year and Kim Tae-gun this year. If Han Jun-soo continues to develop in the offense as well as his batting talent, the team won’t have to worry about a catcher anytime soon. Coach Kim Jong-kook is starting to hope so.

Han Jun-soo is also enjoying his time in the first team. “I’m still a long way from being a first-team player, but I’m trying to do well. I’m learning every day and having fun. I’ll do my best whether I play first or later. I will work hard until I finish playing baseball at KIA so that my name will be remembered,” he said with confidence. /sun

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