In the 2023 KBO rookie draft held in September last year, out of a total of 110 newcomers nominated, 56 pitchers accounted for more than half. This is a result that disproves that pitchers play a large role in baseball.
This season, as in previous years, special pitchers monopolized the top nominations. In the first round, except for Kim Min-seok (infielder, Lotte Giants) and Kim Bum-seok (catcher, LG Twins), all eight players were pitchers. Only Shim Joon-seok, who was considered the best in high school by himself, turned to the Major League Pittsburgh Pirates, but the rest are all high-level pitchers with careers bearing the Taegeuk mark.
However, it is never easy for them to occupy a spot in the top 5 in their first year as a complete freshman. In fact, in the 2022 season, 14 pitchers, 7 each in the first round and 7 in the first round, entered the pros, but no pitcher started the full season. At least, Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles) got the starting spot at the end of the season.
If you expand the range a little more, Lee Eui-ri (KIA Tigers) in 2021 and So-jun So (kt Wiz) Lee Min-ho (LG Twins) in 2020 only started full-season as complete newcomers.
In other words, in normal cases, there are cases where you start as a bullpen and get a starting position in 1-2 years at the earliest, but this is also a great achievement for a rookie.
In the midst of this, Yoon Young-cheol, who was nominated for the KIA as the 2nd overall pick this year, is attracting attention as he is being counted as a candidate for the 5th selection.
KIA, which is setting up a spring camp in Arizona, USA, has already confirmed up to the 4th starter.
Sean Anderson and Adonis Medina, who joined this year, were selected as an outsider one-two punch, and aces Yang Hyeon-jong and Lee Eui-ri were confirmed. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk declared that right-hander Lim Ki-young, left-hander
Kim Ki-hoon, and rookie Yoon Young-cheol are candidates for the remaining starting positions.
Of course, among these three, Lim Ki-young is the most advanced. In addition to being a full-time selection from 2017, in the 2021 season, Yang Hyeon-jong became the center of the starting lineup that was missing due to advancement to the United States. However, last year, 24 out of 26 games started as a starter, and 13 losses (4 wins) became the decisive blow. Due to this wind, he became a ‘5 selection candidate’.
Kim Ki-hoon received the first nomination in 2019 and started 16 out of 19 games, but only 3 wins and 6 losses, and in 2020 he turned to the bullpen rather than starting. And after enlisting in Sangmu, he returned in September of last year and helped KIA’s 5th place in the bullpen. However, if Kim Ki-hoon starts from the beginning of the season, it will not be easy to fill the void left by Jang Hyun-sik, who underwent elbow surgery.
Yoon Young-chul is aiming to enter the 5th starting lineup by taking advantage of this gap. Yoon Young-cheol has already been recognized by the coaching staff to the extent that he is evaluated for his excellent control and perfect breaking ball in bullpen pitching. However, Yoon Young-cheol’s flaw is that his speed is so low that the average maximum speed is only about 145 km. Lack of experience can also be a factor of concern.
Whether or not Yoon Young-cheol can be included in the 5th starter can be determined when he is put into practice starting with Arizona, the spring camp team. KIA will have practice matches against the WBC national team on the 19th and the NC Dinos on the 21st and 22nd. And there are also scheduled practice games with the Hanwha Eagles (28th, March 7th), Samsung Lions (March 1st, 5th), and Lotte Giants (March 3rd).