“There are still some things that (Han) Joon-soo lacks to be a starter.”
The biggest takeaway from the 2023 season for the KIA Tigers is that they have an undisputed starter in Kim Tae-gun, 34, and the next generation of catchers to follow in his footsteps. A year ago, no one would have imagined that KIA’s first-team bullpen would be a Kim Tae-gun-Han Jun-soo (24) system.
The previous manager even brought in Joo Hyo-sang to make up for Han Seung-taek’s lack of weight. Plus Shin Bum-soo and Kim Sun-woo. Even after the end of the spring camp in Tucson, Arizona, the Anbang lineup didn’t deviate much from the original plan B. While the Joo-Hyo-sang-Han Seung-taek system worked well for the first month or two and Shin Bum-soo was promoted to the first team, KIA’s offensive production was still at the bottom of the league.
The player who changed this tense dynamic was 2018 first-round pick Han Jun-soo. The first-round pick went through a period where he was converted to a developmental player and was not in the spotlight until he had to serve in the military. We’ve heard that he lost over 20 kilograms after his military service, and he was lucky to find a solid starting gunner in Kim Tae-gun during his transition to the first team.
This season, Han Jun-soo proved why Kia chose him as the first pick five years ago. He has a lot of potential to grow into an offensive specialist. He’s a right-handed hitter with a one-hitter. He also has good pitching and delivery. Han’s inexperience with pitch mixing and pitching leads was a challenge, but Kim Jong-guk praised his research and hard work.
Han’s biggest strength is that he is a left-handed hitter and can hit left-handed pitching well. He’s 5-for-14 with a .357 batting average. It’s a small sample size, but the on-field evaluation is good. He has his own batting stance and doesn’t waver. On the contrary, he has a .242 batting average and 19 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. However, the way he spins the bat and creates long balls is impressive.
After signing Kim Tae-gun to a multi-year contract at the end of the season, Shim Jae-hak said, “There are still some things that are not good enough for Jun-soo to be a starter.” He signed Kim Tae-gun to a three-year contract, calculating that if Kim Tae-gun was the starter for two years, the backups, including Han Jun-soo, would be relieved of the burden and have time to grow through their own competition.
Along the way, we realized that Kim Tae-gun and Han Jun-soo have a significant interaction. Kim Tae-gun has a good rapport with Han Jun-soo, who is a nuclear catcher. He doesn’t directly teach his junior, Han Junsu, but he leads by example and doesn’t shy away from criticism and nagging. Inside the team, it was said that Taegun gave Han a lot of advice on ball placement and constantly emphasized the basics of a catcher’s stance, blocking, and delivery, and trained with him. Manager Shim Jae-hak said, “It’s important for Tae-goon to talk to Soo-joo.”
The idea is that by 2026, the younger catcher should be good enough to be a starter, or at least share playing time equally with Tae-gun. And right now, the frontrunner is Han Jun-soo. None of the younger Kia catchers are developing faster than Han Jun-soo. Kwon Hyuk-kyung, who was discharged from the military, and Lee Sang-jun, the 2024 catcher, need to be re-evaluated from now on. If they improve, it could spur him on and improve the competitiveness of the entire catching staff. 짱구카지노 주소
Coach Kim Jong-kook said, “I’m looking forward to Han Jun-soo’s next year. He prepared well this year as a whole. Compared to his experience, his inside walks and defense were good, and I’m looking forward to more. He was more stable in the field than I expected this year. He’s a left-handed hitter, but he’s good against left-handed pitchers and has good timing. I feel more confident.”