“It was crazy at first…” AG’s catcher proves perfect after just one game…a back-and-forth ‘home run show’

“At first, I was a little nervous going out on the field…”

메이저사이트 NC catcher Kim Hyung-jun (24) stepped onto the first team stage about a year after retiring from Sangmu in September of the 2022 season. On the 23rd, he was registered in the first team against Incheon SSG. On the 24th, he replaced Ahn Jung-yeol in the first inning of the game. On October 31, 2020, he appeared in the first team for the first time in 1027 days after appearing as a defender against Gwangju KIA.

Would you believe that a catcher who came to the first team after such a long time would be Ahn Bang-manim of the Hangzhou Asian Games baseball team a month later? Even Kim Hyung-joon needed only one game to prove that he was a national catcher. He hit his first back-to-back home runs in the fifth and eighth innings. The home run and RBI came 1045 days after the October 13, 2020 game against the Changwon KIA.

The two hits showed his hitting talent. In the fifth inning, he pulled a three-pitch cutter off SSG left-handed starter Jake McCarty at 1B1S for a solo shot to left field. It wasn’t a bad pitch, it was well inside the zone, but Kim timed it perfectly.

Kim Hyung-joon/NC Dinos

He even led off the eighth inning with a full count and crushed a low, outside cutter over the right-center field fence. Of course, SSG Landers Field’s left-center and right-center fields are shorter than other stadiums, but that didn’t stop Kim from showing off his hitting skills.

Kim suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee just before he retired from the military. After his discharge, he was unable to play due to rehabilitation, so he was unable to participate in spring training. As his knee healed, his ankle became a problem. During training, he stepped on a ball and had to rehabilitate it again.

Manager Kang Myung-hwon couldn’t easily call up a catcher who couldn’t get along with the first-team outfielders and pitchers in spring training. The KBO Power Enhancement Committee believed in his potential, so Kang kept him in the Futures League. If he made the first team, he wouldn’t be able to play every day, so it was better for him to continue playing in the Future League and prepare for the Asian Games.

Kim Hyung-joon/NC Dinos

But things changed again. Park Se-hyuk, the starting catcher, is out of the first team with a wrist injury. The team decided that Ahn Joong-yeol wasn’t good enough to continue playing in the top five. They decided to take the plunge and call up Kim Hyung-jun to give him some competition. For now, until Park Se-hyuk returns, the competition will be between Kim and Ahn Joong-yeol.

Kim will also have to compete for a starting spot at the Asian Games in a month’s time. Kim Dong-heon is Kiwoom’s scary high school rookie. In terms of what a catcher should look like, Kim is beyond the level of a high school rookie. Unlike Kim Hyung-joon, he has gained valuable experience by playing consistently after being included in the opening roster.

Now that Kim has returned to the first team, the two will be battling for the starting catcher spot for the next one month until the Asian Games. It’s a good thing for the national team, which has a lot of bad news. Now, Kim will be evaluated on his defense, pitching reads, and consistency with the first team.

Hyung-Jun Kim/NC Dinos

“At first, I was a little nervous when I went out on the field, but then I thought, ‘Let’s do what I can do and what I’ve been preparing for,'” said Kim. In my first at-bat, my timing was late and the result was not good. In my next at-bat, regardless of the result, I thought, “Let’s get my timing right in front of the plate,” which led to a good result.

Kim added, “Personally, I’m happy to be back in the first team healthy and not sick, and to be able to show a good performance in my comeback game. However, it doesn’t mean much because the team didn’t win today. I would like to thank the Futures Training Department and coaches for helping me to return to the first team in good health, and I would also like to thank the fans for their support during the tough rehabilitation period. I will play better in the next game to help the team win.”

Kim Hyung-joon/NC Dinos

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