“When I told them I was going back to Lotte, they told me to take care of Kim Jin-wook.”
Coach Joo Hyung-kwang, the Lotte Giants’ “original left-handed ace,” returned to his hometown team after five years away. This season, he was asked by new manager Kim Tae-hyung to serve as the first-team main pitching coach and help the Giants revitalize.
Joo hadn’t had much contact with Kim Tae-hyung during his playing days and after he started his coaching career, but Kim Tae-hyung saw his leadership as essential for Lotte.
Born in 1976, Joo Hyeong-kwang is a pitcher whose name cannot be left out of the story of Lotte. After graduating from Busan High School, he joined the club in 1994 for a then-high school rookie record contract of 14 million won and immediately established himself as a pillar of the Giants’ mound.
In the 1996 season, he went 18-7 with a 3.36 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 30 games and 216⅔ innings with one save, winning the win and strikeout titles. He wore the Lotte uniform until his retirement in 2007, finishing his career with 386 games, 1524⅓ innings, 87 wins, 82 losses, nine saves, 22 holds, and a 3.83 ERA.
He didn’t leave Lotte after his retirement. He became a training coach for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2008, a coach for Lotte’s rehabilitation program in 2009, and from 2010 to 2019, he served as the first-team bullpen coach, first-team main pitching coach, second-team main pitching coach, and third-team pitching coach.
After leaving Lotte after the 2019 season, Joo focused on developing young players as the head coach of the baseball team at Yangjeong Elementary School in Busan, and now he’s back to help revive the Giants.
Coach Joo has promised intense training for his pitchers during Lotte’s first spring training camp of the 2024 season, which began on March 1 at Dededo Baseball Stadium in Guam. The plan is to push the pitchers harder than in previous years to improve their performance without overdoing it.
While we won’t be focusing on any particular pitcher, we’ll be talking to left-hander Kim Jin-wook a lot and trying to harden his mind as well as his body. How Kim performs this season could make a big difference in the direction of Lotte’s mound operations.
Coach Joo’s acquaintances are paying close attention to Jin-wook’s progress even more than he is. They hope that he will develop Kim into a native left-handed ace representing Lotte, just as he did during his playing days.
“When I told people I was returning to coach Lotte, they told me that if I could only raise Kim Jin-wook, I would have done 100% of my job,” he laughed, then added, “My coaching doesn’t make him better, but first of all, Kim Jin-wook is not a player who can’t play baseball. I think we need to figure out how long he can keep the balance when it’s good.”
Kim Jin-wook was selected by Lotte in the second round, first overall, of the 2021 KBO Draft after graduating from Gangneung High School. He was considered the biggest pitcher his age in the amateur ranks, and Lotte had no hesitation in selecting him.
In his senior year of high school, Kim went 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 10 games and 36⅔ innings pitched with 55 strikeouts. He was literally overpowering with a fastball in the mid-to-high 140s. He was expected to grow into Lotte’s homegrown left-handed ace after Joo Hyung-kwang and Jang Won-joon.
But the bar was high in the professional ranks. In his rookie season in 2021, Kim went 4-6 with a 6.31 ERA in 49 games, 45⅔ innings pitched, and eight holds. In 2022, he experienced more growing pains, going 2-5 with a 6.56 ERA in 14 games and 46⅔ innings.
After starting the 2023 season with a bullpen role, Bozik showed flashes of brilliance, but his final numbers were disappointing, with a 6.44 ERA in 50 games, 36⅓ innings, 2-1 record, and 8 holds. As he enters his fourth year as a professional, he needs to rebound this year for his own sake.
Coach Joo Hyung-kwang said, “Kim Jin-wook is not at the stage where we can discuss his position for this season. He has to show good form to be able to pitch at 바카라사이트 추천 important moments.” “In the left-handed bullpen, there are veterans like Jin Hae-soo and Lim Jun-seop, so Kim Jin-wook has to compete,” he emphasized.
“In the end, the best pitcher should be on the mound. It’s not about who can go out first,” he said, adding, “We need to make sure that we are 100 percent through spring training, exhibition games, and games.”
Instead, Joo wants to help Jin-wook improve his chances of pitching well. He believes that if Kim can reduce his ups and downs, he can make it in the first team.
Coach Joo Hyung-kwang said, “Kim Jin-wook is a pitcher with good enough stuff. When I first saw him in the final camp in November last year, there was a big difference between when he was good and when he was not, including his pitching form.” “It will not be easy to maintain the best balance throughout the year, but I will try to solve it by having many conversations with him as a manager,” he said.
Kim Jin-wook is undaunted and is preparing for the 2024 season. He has quickly forgotten about his disappointments and is focused on improving his pitching from last year.
“I want to be a pitcher who is always fighting on the mound and can fight with hitters,” said Kim. “Last year, I got off to a good start, but I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity to go further. I will do my best to show a different side this year.”