‘Watch out for the stars!
The KBO is in the midst of a fierce standings battle amidst a refreshing new structure of ‘two strong, seven middle, and one weak’. With the 2023 season just around the corner, the most eye-catching aspect of the league is the performance of the rookies. There are a lot of rookies who have established themselves as starters on their respective teams. Naturally, there is also great interest in the direction of this year’s Rookie of the Year.
The roster for the ‘Festival of Stars’ All-Star Game, which will be held on May 15 at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan, provides a hint. A total of 16 players will be honored for the first time in their careers, and there are four stars who are eligible for Rookie of the Year. Among them are the pitching trio of Hanwha’s Moon Dong-ju, LG’s Park Myung-geun, and KIA’s Choi Ji-min.
Moon is the favorite to win the race. Last year in a Hanwha uniform, he prepared for the future by focusing on his injury recovery instead of overworking himself. This season, he’s been worth the wait, cruising to a 5-6 record and 3.69 ERA in 14 games. His momentum continued into June (3-1, 2.14 ERA), when he hit a career-high 160.1 km/h against the KIA in Gwangju on April 12. He has the starting pitching advantage, so it will be important for him to keep it going.온라인바카
Park has been a hot commodity in the Twins’ bullpen this season. The 27th overall pick in the third round of the 2023 draft was a bit of a late pick, but he’s been scary as hell. In 35 games, he’s 4-0 with five saves and a 3.25 ERA. His side-armed snake fastball reaches nearly 150 mph, making him a must-win pitcher. Above all, he has shown a gutsy attitude that is uncharacteristic of a high school rookie and is already being talked about as the next LG closer.
Choi Ji-min is the epitome of transformation. Last year, when he made his debut, his average fastball velocity was only 141.1 kilometers. However, after a solid offseason of training and improvement, he transformed into a fireballer that throws 150 kilometers this year. In 33 games, he has a 2-2 record, three saves, five shutouts, and a 1.88 ERA. A key part of the Tigers’ bullpen, he made the final roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games alongside Moon Dong-ju.
Also in the running are Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte) and Yoon Young-chul (KIA), who were unable to make the All-Star Game. However, if the results are anything to go by, it will likely be a three-way battle between the three All-Stars. Who will be smiling at the end of the race?