In the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft, there were several players who made headlines apart from the order of nomination. The representative player is Song Won-dae left-handed pitcher Chung Hyun-soo (22), who made his face known through JTBC baseball entertainment program “The Strongest Baseball.”
In the 2024 KBO rookie draft held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on the 14th, Chung Hyun-soo was selected by the Lotte Giants as the 13th overall pick in the second round. Among the strongest baseball players, infielders Hwang Young-mook (Yeoncheon Miracle) and Ko Young-woo (Sungkyunkwan University) were named to the Hanwha Eagles (31st in the 4th round) and Kiwoom Heroes (39th in the 4th round), respectively.
Attention is also focused on Jung Hyun-soo. Among the strongest baseball players ever, the nomination ranking was the highest. In last year’s rookie draft, catcher Yoon Joon-ho and infielder Ryu Hyun-in, who played in the strongest baseball, were selected as Doosan Bears (49th overall in the 5th round) and KT Wiz (70th overall in the 7th round), respectively.
Chung Hyun-soo had high expectations for the top nomination even before the rookie draft. Apart from the strongest baseball, he has a reputation as a top pitcher in college baseball. The final nomination ranking was in the second round, but some experts predicted the possibility of nominating a lower pick in the first round.
He played in 12 games in 2021 with 6 wins and 1 loss and a 2.29 ERA, and in 2022, he played in 19 games with 10 wins and 1 loss and a 3.58 ERA. His ERA was somewhat high, but he struck out 129 in 83⅓ innings. This year, he took the mound in 11 games with 4 wins, 2 losses and a 2.09 ERA. He pitched 42⅔3 innings and struck out 75.메이저놀이터
Jung Hyun-soo’s strength is that he is a left-handed pitcher and uses various breaking balls such as sliders, changeups, and curves. In particular, a big curve that catches the batter off guard is a strong main weapon. He takes most of the strikeouts with a curve. This year, the average number of walks allowed per nine innings is 3.59, so the control is not bad.
However, some Lotte fans are voicing that Jung Hyun-soo’s skills may have been inflated more than they actually are due to the broadcast effect. It may be a hasty judgment because it has only been a year, but it is also true that rookie players from the strongest baseball league last year have not shown any significant performance.
Jung Hyun-soo has obvious weaknesses as well as his strengths. He has a small physique and a fast ball speed of only 140 kilometers. With high school graduates throwing fastballs in the 150-kilometer range, there is clearly a regret over the arrest. In addition, Jung Hyun-soo pitched 83⅓ innings in 2022, which is unusual for a college player. Controversy over overwork is following like a tag over throwing 567 balls in 13 days.
Chung Hyun-soo is a college player. As soon as he enters the professional league, he must immediately prove his power loss, and it is clear why Lotte chose Jung Hyun-soo. It means to help the left-handed bullpen that is lacking in the team. Lotte is suffering from a chronic left-handed thirst. The left-handers who played on the Lotte mound this season are Kim Jin-wook and Shim Jae-min, who were traded from the KT Wiz in May. At least, Shim Jae-min lived up to his expectations, but Kim Jin-wook was disappointed to have a 5.86 ERA. In particular, chronic ball control anxiety is rarely resolved.
Jung Hyun-soo must be a necessary player for Lotte. Another attractive factor for Lotte is that he is from Busan. Chung attended Daeyeoncho-Busan Middle School-Busan High School.
Jung Hyun-soo is also well aware that Lotte has high expectations for him. In an interview after the nomination, Jung Hyun-soo said, “It’s new to go back to my hometown,” adding, “It’s important to work hard in the future, but I want to be a good player.” “I just wanted to be selected unconditionally rather than being in the top few,” he added. “I only thought that way I could play in the professional league again.”
Will Jung Hyun-soo be able to reproduce his skills in “the strongest baseball” on the professional stage, leaving behind all controversies and concerns. It is an interesting attraction for next year’s professional baseball league.