I can’t remember the name…”
Lotte Giants coach Kim Tae-hyung is spending an unfamiliar fall with a new team. In fact, for coach Taehyung Kim, fall has always been the time of the postseason. Since his appointment as manager of Doosan in 2015, he has been a regular guest in fall baseball, advancing to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive years until 2021. In the past, coach Kim Tae-hyung was in the midst of a fierce fall baseball season.
Perhaps, the time called finishing camp is unfamiliar to coach Kim Tae-hyung. Coach Kim said, “It’s been 9 years since the closing camp in 2014.”
Coach Kim Tae-hyung, who began his work as Lotte coach in earnest with the inauguration ceremony on the 24th and the meeting meeting on the 25th, was busy getting to know the players by going around Sangdong Stadium immediately after the meeting meeting. The players currently participating in the finishing camp are mainly players who stayed with the Futures team. From the first day, pitchers were instructed to pitch from the bullpen. During this process, there were players who caught the eye of the ‘master’.
Of course, I haven’t yet memorized all the players’ names. As a commentator for SBS Sports this year, I watched the 9 clubs excluding Doosan and remembered the faces and names of the first-team players, but the Futures players were inevitably unfamiliar to me. Even when I met with reporters on the 26th, I still couldn’t completely remember the names of the players. However, he clearly remembered and remembered the player’s characteristics and strengths.
Coach Kim Tae-hyung said, “It seems that there are many pitchers with good velocity overall,” and “First of all, game management and control are the first things. But don’t pitchers with fast balls have a good chance of doing well? If these pitchers have good control, they have a good chance of doing well. “Shouldn’t velocity be innate,” he said, expressing his thoughts on Lotte’s young pitching staff.
On the first day of camp, the club’s YouTube channel, Giants TV, asked in detail about right-handed fastball star Jeong Seong-jong (28) and pointed out points that needed to be corrected. He explained, “He is a pitcher who must pitch in the first team. He asked about things like his throwing style and stance.”
He also gave brief impressions about new players. Although he couldn’t immediately recall the name, he mentioned this year’s rookie right-hander Jin-ha Lee (19). And, referring to the left-handed pitcher, he said, “And he has a good left hand. He’s tall… He seemed to throw about 150 km.” The player that Coach Kim mentioned was Hong Min-ki (22), who was selected 4th overall in the 2nd first round in 2020.
This is his fourth year as a member, but he has only played one first-team game in 2021. His charm was that he threw fastballs with a wild pitching form.
However, even in the second team, it took a long time to rehabilitate due to injuries such as his shoulders, elbows, etc. Finally, in November 2021, he completed his military service as active duty by enlisting together with Woo Kang-hoon (21), who is one year his junior.
Hong Min-ki, who was discharged from the military in May of this year, took the mound again in September of this year and recorded an average ERA of 21.60 (8 earned runs in 3⅓ innings) in 4 games. He gave up 9 walks in 4 games. However, his charm as a left-handed fire bowler cannot be ignored. Coach Kim Tae-hyung also prefers pitchers who can attack opposing hitters with strength, so a type of player like Hong Min-ki may have stood out more. 안전놀이터
In the end, he must advance to the first team and achieve results so that coach Kim Tae-hyung can remember the name Hong Min-ki more clearly. Hong Min-ki’s challenges have always been injuries and ball control. Former manager Larry Sutton explained, “When Hong Min-ki returned to the mound, he celebrated inwardly. He was just as happy as winning the Korean Series.” While watching Hong Min-ki’s rehabilitation process, we congratulated him on returning to the mound and showing off his healthy and powerful pitch.
Although he completed his military service and still throws a 150 km fastball, Hong Min-gi still has many hurdles to overcome. Still, since he is a rare left-hander in Lotte and a fast ball player, it is not easy to overlook his charm. Will Hong Min-ki be able to overcome the injury risk and grow and leap forward as much as coach Kim Tae-hyung’s first impression?