“A convention is 150 kilometers longer than a changeup”… Why ‘old protege’ hands up, not ‘super rookie’ hands down

“I thought (Jung) Woo-young would have an advantage”

Ryu Jung-il and Cho Kye-hyun, head of the KBO’s Power Enhancement Committee, held a press conference on Monday at the Baseball Hall in Dogok-dong, Seoul, to announce the 24-man roster of the baseball team that will compete at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games in September.

The 24-man roster includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders and three outfielders. The average age of the roster is 23.21 years old, the youngest ever, as players were selected with the condition that they must be 25 years old and in their fourth year of professional baseball in order to wear the “Taeguk-mark” at the Asian Games.

Ryu Joong-il was joined by Park Se-woong (Lotte) and Koo Chang-mo (NC) through wild cards, and Ko Woo-seok, Jung Woo-young (LG), Park Young-hyun (KT), Won Tae-in (Samsung), Na Kyun-an (Lotte), Kwak Bin (Doosan), Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha), Lee Yi-ri, and Choi Ji-min (KIA). Among the amateur players, Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), dubbed the “biggest name in high school,” also made the list.

“He’s been trying out since March,” said Cho Kye-hyun. “The Asian Games is an amateur competition. “The Asian Games is an amateur competition, but it also includes a dimension to give dreams and hope for the development of amateur baseball,” said Cho. “After looking at amateur players, Jang Hyun-seok received the best scores from the committee in the areas of pitching, speed and game management, so he was selected.

For Yongmago, Jang is primarily a starting pitcher. What role will he play in the national team? “We need to see his physical condition,” Ryu said, adding, “He can start, or he can throw long innings as a second pitcher. We will decide how to use him based on the situation at that time.”

For the national team, a number of starting pitchers made the roster. Of the 12 pitchers, more than half, seven, are starting pitchers in the KBO. Aside from Jang Hyun-seok, who is an amateur, there are four professional bullpen members: Ko Woo-seok, Jung Woo-young, Park Young-hyun, and Choi Ji-min.

With so many starting resources, Ryu is likely to use a one-for-one strategy. He said, “We have a lot of starters, but we play five games 안전놀이터. Baseball is a pitching game. We’ll have to see how things go, but I think we’ll have to use the 1+1 strategy that I like to use to get to (the closer) Go Woo-seok.”

During the Q&A session, Ryu was also asked about Jung Woo-young. Jung Woo-young was Ryu’s “go-to guy” when he was the manager of the LG Twins, so he knows his strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. However, this year, Jung’s performance has been a bit off compared to previous years.

In 29 appearances this year, Jung has a record of 4 losses and 10 holds with a 5.04 ERA. Considering he’s been nothing but good since his debut, it’s clear that this isn’t the kind of performance he deserves. As a result, he wasn’t even named to the All-Star Game’s Best 12.

While Jung Woo-young is struggling, there is another player from the same sidearm who is doing well. Park Myung-geun. Selected by LG with the 27th overall pick in the third round of the 2023 Korean Baseball Organization draft, “Rookie” Park Myung-geun is 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 25 games this year and has been the back door for LG in the absence of Ko Woo-seok.

Coach Ryu Joong-il was apparently torn between Jung Woo-young and Park Myung-geun. “I had to choose between Jeong Woo-young and Park Myung-geun, and I had a lot of trouble with the power enhancement committee. (Jeong) Woo-young has experience and (Park) Myung-geun is a rookie,” he said. “When I went to the international tournament, I thought that (Jeong) Woo-young, who throws more than 150 kilometers, would have an advantage over a changeup pitcher, so I chose him.”

Ryu’s goal for the tournament is gold. “This tournament will be the first step in laying the foundation for a good performance at the WBC in 2026,” he said. “The WBC was eliminated in the first round. Our goal for the Asian Games is gold. I will work hard with the younger players to make sure we win gold.”

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