Will KIA Tigers’ ‘super rookie’ Yoon Young-chul (19) walk the same path that team senior Eui-ri Lee (21) walked two years ago?
Yoon Young-chul, who has been attracting attention as a top-notch prospect along with Shim Jun-seok (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles) since his days at Chungam High School, was nominated by the KIA as the second overall pick in the first round in the 2023 rookie draft.
From the time of his nomination, Yoon Young-chul, who was evaluated as an ‘immediate sense of power’, was on the first-team spring camp participation list from his first year of joining. Yoon Young-cheol is the only rookie in the KIA’s first-team spring camp, which is being held at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.
Yoon Young-chul is preparing for the 2023 season smoothly. He pitched three times in the bullpen and pitched live twice, improving his physical condition enough to compete. It is a message from a club official that KIA coach Kim Jong-guk, who looked at Yoon Young-chul’s ball, expressed his satisfaction, saying, “He throws the ball like a rookie.”
Initially, KIA planned to take Yun Young-cheol to the United States to check his skills and decide on a position. However, when Yun Young-chul threw the ball beyond expectations, he was put on the 5th starting list. Yoon Young-chul is expected to compete with Lim Ki-young and Kim Ki-hoon for the 5th starter through spring camp and demonstration games.
KIA looks at Yoon Young-chul and thinks of Lee Eui-ri two years ago.
Eui-ri Lee, who has been attracting attention as a super high school pitcher since his days at Gwangju Ilgo, received the first nomination for the KIA in 2021.
Lee Eui-ri, who was included in the roster for the first team spring camp in 2021, the first year of his joining, stood out and succeeded in entering the opening starting rotation.
In the first half of the 2021 season, Lee Eui-ri played an active role with an average ERA of 3.89 with 4 wins and 3 losses in 14 games, and also wore a Taegeuk mark at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held that year.
Although the season ended early due to an ankle injury at the end of the season, Lee Eui-ri went 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 19 games and won the Rookie of the Year title. It was the first time in 36 years that a Tigers player won the Rookie of the Year award since Lee Soon-cheol in 1985.
Last year, his second year as a pro, Lee Eui-ri grew a handful more. Although he had his ups and downs, he recorded a 10-10 ERA of 3.86 by increasing his breaking pitch and improving his perfection, achieving his first double-digit multiplier in his debut.
Yoon Young-chul is also evaluated as throwing a ball that can be used in the first team. KIA’s expectations 안전놀이터are gradually inflating as Yoon Young-chul, who has shown off his high-level game management ability since high school, shows more than expected in spring camp.
If Yun Young-cheol overcomes the competition for the 5th starting pitcher, the chances of him going down the same path as his seniors increase.
Even if he is pushed out of the 5th selection competition, Yoon Young-chul, who is expected to be one of the pillars of the future selection, is expected to receive opportunities steadily. As he competes for a start in spring camp, he can get a chance as a starter if there is a gap in the starting lineup during the season.
At the time of leaving the spring camp, Yoon Young-cheol said, “I want to pitch as a starter,” but said, “I’m still a rookie, and it will be helpful if I pitch a lot in any position.”
Starting with a practice game with the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) national team, which is training in Tucson on the 19th, KIA will begin to coordinate its senses in practice. Two practice matches are scheduled with NC Dinos in Tucson, and at the end of this month, they will move to Okinawa, Japan, and start a full-scale actual combat system.
Yoon Young-cheol, who is competing for starting positions, is expected to be able to get several chances to pitch. Yun Young-cheol’s dream of joining the starting lineup can come true only when he makes his mark through actual matches.