Pitcher with a blazing fastball could be next K-League starThe Korean professional baseball league, which opened on Saturday, has a number of players worth mentioning.
One of them is Han Ki-joo, 19, who graduated from Gwangju Dongsung High School and joined the Kia Tigers this year. When he was in high school, he threw at 150 kilometers per hour (93 mph) and was called the second Sun Dong-yuhl, the 43-year-old legendary pitcher and now the manager of Samsung Lions.
Although Han recorded two losses as a starter in exhibition games and had an earned run average of 7.84, sluggers had trouble hitting Han’s fastballs. “Han Ki-joo is one of the best players since Sun Dong-yuhl joined Korean professional baseball,” said Yang Sang-mun, an MBC/ESPN correspondent.
On Sunday, Han lost his first game. He threw at 151 kilometers per hour and allowed only two hits in the first three innings, but gave up a two run homer in the fourth inning to Lee Bum-ho. Kia lost the game to Hanwha 5-3.
Koo Dae-sung, of the Hanwha Eagles, is also noteworthy. Koo, 35, pitched for team Korea at the World Baseball Classic and showed off a sharp slider and good control, although he doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he started playing in the Japanese league (Orix BlueWave) in 2000.
In his return, Koo saved two straight games against the Kia Tigers. In the opening game Saturday, Koo allowed only one hit in one and one-third innings. Hanhwa beat Kia 3-1, with three home runs by Jay Davis.
On Sunday, Koo allowed no runs on three hits in one and one-third innings.
Among foreign players, Felix Jose of the Lotte Giants, who was an all-star in 1991 with the St. Louis Cardinals, is one of the top players. In 11 exhibition games, Jose had a batting average of .438 with one home run and six runs. “Jose appearing at bat would be threatening enough for opposition teams,” said Lotte's manager, Kang Byung-chul.
Lotte's new expatriate player, Brian Myrow, hit .385 with three home runs, the highest in the team, and scored nine runs during the exhibition games. Myrow hit a home run in the third inning, although Lotte lost to Samsung 6-5 on Sunday.
Seo Yong-bin of the LG Twins was named team captain. On Sunday, Seo drove in an LG player with a one-out hit, helping the team avenge the previous day's defeat with a 6-4 victory over the Doosan Bears.
Seo returned after finishing his military duty last year and played 15 games. In 1994, Seo was one of the young stars in baseball along with Ryu Ji-hyun, an LG coach, and Kim Jae-hyun of SK Wyverns.
“Our team's front, coaching staff and players are well integrated and won the exhibition tournament,” Seo said.
More than 109,000 baseball fans flocked to the baseball stadiums over the weekend, despite the bad weather caused by the yellow dust.
Last year, 75,600 attended opening weekend.
by Sung Baik-you, Limb Jae-un