By Moon Dae-hyun = Masan Yongmago’s right-handed pitcher Jang Hyun-seok, 19, who is regarded as a talent at the high school level, is weighing up whether to pursue Major League Baseball (MLB) or the KBO.
Jang Hyun-seok took the mound as the second pitcher in the 78th Cheongnyonggi National Baseball Championship and Weekend League Wangjoongwang quarter-final against Jang Chung-go at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul on the 24th.
Entering the game with the bases loaded in the third inning, Jang threw 102 pitches in 6⅔ innings, striking out 14, but his performance was short-lived as his team lost 2-3.
While facing the first batter, Jang made a bad throw to first base and later gave up a single to Ryu Hyun-jun. However, Jang was not credited with an earned run, as the previous pitcher’s runner succeeded him.
From then on, however, Jang was like an iron castle. He pitched a no-hitter until the ninth inning, striking out a whopping 14 batters. His fastball reached 154 kilometres.
Speaking to the media after the game, Jang said, “I was physically strong in the hot weather, so I dropped my velocity a little bit in the middle and tried to catch up. I still haven’t perfected my sweeper, but I think I was lucky enough to overcome the opposing batters.”
Jang Hyun-seok, who roared loudly at the end of each inning during the game, was proud of his performance, saying, “I didn’t want to look like I had no energy, so it was kind of a performance.”
One of the key match-ups of the day was between Jang Hyun-seok and Hwang Jun-seo (Jang Chung-go). Both Jang, who was selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games, and Hwang, who has already shown promise with the youth national team, are regarded as two of the best pitchers in high school baseball.
Jang Hyun-seok took the mound early with his team losing and pitched a long inning, while Hwang Jun-seo took the mound in the eighth inning and pitched two innings with the next game on his mind.
With runners on first and third in the eighth inning, Hwang Jun-seo allowed two runners to succeed Cho Dong-wook, the previous pitcher, but did not allow any further runs to score to earn the save.
Jang Hyun-seok said, “After the match, I congratulated (Hwang) Jun-seo. He showed a good performance like a youth representative. It was great to see him defend in a crisis situation.”
With his proven skills, Jang Hyun-seok is expected to be the first pick in the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft. The 2014 draft, which takes place on 14 September, is open until 6pm on 15 August.
However, there are some who believe Jang will follow in the footsteps of Shim Jun-seok (Pittsburgh Pirates) last year and try his hand at MLB. If Jang Hyun-seok wins a gold medal at the Asian Games and receives military service benefits, the scenario of going to the United States will gain momentum.
Jang Hyun-seok has been asked about his future every time he meets with the media after being selected for the national team, and his answer is “I haven’t decided yet,” and today was no different.
Jang Hyun-seok, who recently met with an MLB scout, said, “I can’t reveal what I talked about (with the scout) publicly. I’ll just say that I’m thinking about it,” he said, adding, “I think I’ll continue to think about it until right before the deadline.”온라인바카
When asked, “What percentage of you hope to make the MLB,” he laughed and said, “I will not comment.
“If I go to the national team, I want to meet seniors Ko Woo-seok and Moon Dong-joo, who throw hard fastballs, and learn how to do it,” Jang said, adding, “If I can compete in the tournament, I want to come down with a strikeout.” He also shared his aspirations for the national team.