Last winter, free agent Yang Yang-ji moved from NC to Doosan, starting a chain reaction of catchers. NC, which was left with an emergency after Yang’s departure, embraced Park Se-hyuk, who played for Doosan. LG also filled the void perfectly when Yoo Kang-nam headed to Lotte, immediately bringing in Park Dong-won, who played for KIA.
On the other hand, without Park Dong-won, KIA was unable to acquire a new catcher. As a result, many considered catcher to be the biggest weakness of the team this season. However, so far this season, KIA has been able to keep a low profile with three catchers playing the majority of the time. Han Seung-taek (29), Joo Hyo-sang (26), and Shin Beom-soo (25).메이저사이트
Han is batting .137 (10-for-73) with three doubles, four RBIs, nine runs scored, 29 walks and a .414 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 37 games. He was included in the opening day roster and received regular playing time from the start of the season, anchoring KIA’s infield. He hasn’t been removed from the first team roster once this year. He has been praised for his pitching lead rather than his offense.
Joo Hyo-sang was also named to the opening roster alongside Han Seung-taek. In 19 games this season, Joo is batting .063 (2-for-32) with one home run, two RBI, two runs scored, two walks, 10 strikeouts, and an OPS of .181. He has been playing in the Futures League since May 14 after being designated for assignment from the first team roster. Joo Hyo-sang is a catcher who was acquired by KIA in November of last year in a trade that gave Kiwoom a rookie draft pick (second round) for the 2024 season. Joo is another catcher whose strengths lie more in defense than offense.
Then there’s Shin Beom-soo, who was called up to the first team on April 14 in exchange for Joo. In 11 games this season, Shin is batting .259 (7-for-28) with three doubles, two triples, six RBIs, and an OPS of .656. He was given the starting catcher’s mask on May 24 against Daejeon Hanwha and has been used consistently since. Kia manager Kim Jong-kook said, “He has good posture and strength at the plate. He spins the bat in a way that makes you feel excited. On defense, his framing and blocking are as good as other catchers,” he said, giving him a thumbs-up. On the 30th of last month, he completed his first ever three-hit game. Although the home game against KT on the 1st was canceled due to ground conditions, it was Shin Bum-soo who was named in the starting lineup on that day as well.
So who is KIA’s starting catcher right now? Before the game against KT in Gwangju was canceled on the 1st, Kim was asked by the press, “Who is the main catcher of KIA?” “The person who is playing a lot right now is the main player,” Kim said.
“The person who is in good physical condition is the starter. Rather than picking a specific person, (Han) Seung-taek has been playing the most,” he said, adding, “I think you can think of the player who is playing (in games) now as the main player. It’s hard to say for sure. (Joo) Hyo-sang, who was sent down to the Future Team, could also improve his form. (Kim) Sun-woo (2021 2nd 9th round, 84th pick) could also be a possibility. For now, it seems like a player who is in good shape should go out.”
In fact, when you think of KIA’s starting catcher, you might think of Han Seung-taek, who, as Kim mentioned, was the one who played the most games. However, the situation is different now. Shin Beom-soo’s rise to prominence has created a healthy competition within the team. In addition to this, the head coach also announced that there are virtually no main players, signaling an endless competition system. Kim’s strong determination is having a positive effect on the team through competition.
On the 29th of last month, when there was no game, Kim launched a “shock therapy” that removed five players from the first-team roster (starting first baseman Hwang Dae-in, closer Jung Hae-young, foreign pitcher Sean Anderson, left-handed reliever Kim Dae-yoo, and infield prospect Yoon Do-hyun). Naturally, tensions grew between the players heading to the second team and their teammates who remained on the first team. The team went on to win two straight games. As it turns out, Kim’s decision to take a stand has had a synergistic effect on the team.
“It depends on the mindset of the players to make a change,” Kim said, “I had been preparing for the roster change. I have my own mind, but it depends on how the players do. Right now, I think the players are playing with the idea of working hard. We have been organizing the team as if the players who are in the first team are the first team players. Unless they are replaced due to sluggishness or injuries, we have the idea of building the season with the current players.”
This season, KIA is tied for fifth place with NC with 22 wins and 22 losses (5 percent winning percentage). The top three (LG-SSG-Lotte) is still solid, but all teams are now looking to move up. “The player who is playing now is the main player.” It’s not just the catcher, but all of the KIA players who are more aware of the fact that “no position is guaranteed.” Coincidentally, KIA now travels to Busan for a fateful three-game weekend series against third-place Lotte.