“You didn’t do as well as Moon Dong-ju (21, Hanwha Eagles) in your first year. I hope you can do better in your second year as well as Moon.”
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho expected a rookie’s performance in the “second year” for the second consecutive year.
Kim Seo-hyun (20) left Korea for the Australian spring camp on April 30. After graduating from Seoul High School, he joined Hanwha as the No. 1 player in the 2023 rookie draft. However, his first-year performance was only 7.25, with one save in 20 games. He was also appointed as a must-winner by throwing fastballs at a maximum speed of 158.4 kilometers per hour, but failed to overcome difficulties in ball control and ended the season.
The lackluster performance in the first season does not necessarily mean that expectations for Kim Seo-hyun have disappeared. Choi told reporters before his departure that he expected Kim Seo-hyun to play in the bullpen. “Park Sang-won and Joo Hyun-sang will join the winning team. Jang Si-hwan, Lee Min-woo, Kim Bum-soo and Yoon Dae-kyung are also considered bullpens,” Choi said. “Kim Seo-hyun performed as bad as Moon Dong-ju in his first year. I hope he will be as good as Moon Dong-ju in his second year.”
Jokes are mixed, but there is also a reason. Moon Dong-ju, who received the Rookie of the Year award last year, was sluggish with one win, three losses and a 5.65 ERA in his debut season of 2022. He was considered the No. 1 rookie of the year before the season, but failed to overcome his injury and slump. However, the Hanwha Eagles did not rush to nurture him step by step. He took the mound in the second division, promoted to the first division, rested day for the bullpen, and adjusted the number of starting pitches all as planned. As a result, his performance changed 180 degrees last year, his second year. With eight wins and eight losses and a 3.72 ERA, he was not only a main starter for the team but also a member of the national team.
“We have established a long-term road map and handled it carefully. Usually, a pitcher’s muscle strength increases every year until he is in his mid-20s. Moon also predicted that he will become a representative pitcher of Korea around his mid-20s.”
Hanwha expects Kim Seo-hyun to follow in the footsteps of Moon Dong-ju. After playing only 22 1/3 innings last year, Kim still has the eligibility to win the Rookie of the Year award (players who played less than 30 innings). His task is to keep up his mental strength, which was shaken by sluggish performance last year. “I want to throw with ease now. When I moved to the second division for the first time last year, I had a lot of anxiety. I will not be mindful of such things and play comfortably,” Kim said in an interview with this newspaper. 꽁머니환전
Moon also hopes his juniors will be relieved of the burden of the first year. In addition to Kim, left-handed pitcher Hwang Joon-seo, who joined the Hanwha Eagles as the first overall pick, is currently participating in the first team camp as a starting pitcher. “I hope you don’t feel pressured to win the Rookie of the Year award in your first year,” Moon said. “I hope you just think that you finish the first season well. Even if you don’t talk about winning the Rookie of the Year award yourself, people around you will do it a lot. I think it’s better to focus on baseball (without being swayed by the words),” he said.