1st team Kim Hyeon-joon (Samsung Lions), who took the starting center fielder position after two seasons of debut, is vacating at the beginning of this season. An unexpected ‘exploit variable’ occurred.
The Samsung team delivered the physical 스포츠토토condition of Kim Hyun-joon, who complained of pain in his right wrist in the match against KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO demonstration game held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu the day before the 20th (19th). A hospital examination revealed a fracture of the haematopoietic bone in his right hand. Contrary to the club’s announcement that there was no special issue at the time of replacement, the situation was more serious than expected.
Considering the process of surgery and rehabilitation, he is expected to take about three months to return to the ground. The timing of his return may change depending on the player’s recovery, but for now, the remaining outfielders should minimize Kim Hyun-joon’s gap for more than two months after the start of the regular season.
I barely filled Park Hae-min’s void…
Samsung’s biggest topic in the 2022 season was ‘erasing Park Hae-min’s shadow’. Park Hae-min (LG Twins), who played as the starting center fielder until the previous season, moved the team to a free agent (FA) contract, leaving a big hole in the center line. Someone had to fill this spot, but there were no good players.
After various players such as Kim Heon-gon and Park Seung-gyu competed, Kim Hyun-joon, who was in his second year as a pro, was reborn as the starting center fielder. Opportunities to play increased significantly from May, and in June, he recorded 26 hits in 77 at-bats with a batting average of 0.338 and 8 RBIs, making his mark.
In August, he suffered ups and downs, such as reaching a batting average of 10% per month, but considering that he had never played a full-time season, he completed the season beyond expectations. Last year, his final first-team performance was 118 games, 363 at-bats, 100 hits, 0.275 batting average, 22 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.715.
He showed good performance in defense as well as offense. He had just three errors while digesting 799⅓ as a center fielder. It cannot be concluded that he was better than Park Hae-min, who boasted a high-quality defensive range, but thanks to Kim Hyun-jun, Samsung’s concerns about being a center fielder have decreased.
Even outside the stadium, interest in Kim Hyun-jun (joined in 2021) was hot. Along with Kim Ji-chan (joined in 2020) and Lee Jae-hyun (joined last year), who wore Samsung uniforms at intervals of one year, he was nicknamed ‘Gulbiz’ and was loved by many fans. In terms of marketing, the appearance of a talented young player was good news for the club. In many ways, Kim Hyun-joon’s departure is regrettable.
Samsung’s Plan B without Kim Hyun-jun
If so, what is Samsung’s Plan B? The start of the regular season is less than two weeks away. As it is difficult to find a breakthrough with outside recruitment, there is no choice but to endure with existing outfield resources until Kim Hyun-joon returns.
First of all, it is likely that the opportunity will go to Lee Seong-gyu, who has replaced Kim Hyun-joon after he was injured. He showed off three hits, including one home run, as a substitute on the 19th, and did his part the following day with one hit and one run in five at-bats in a home game against the Lotte Giants.
His demonstration game performance was 7 games, 14 at bats, batting average 0.429, 5 RBI, 4 runs, 2 stolen bases, and 3 home runs out of 6 hits, showing off a high hitting feeling. For Lee Seong-gyu, who has not been able to reach his potential since being nominated in the 31st overall in the 2nd 4th round in 2016, now is a great opportunity to make his presence known.
His key is defense. Having mainly played infield positions such as first baseman and second baseman in the first team, he is challenging the outfield defense this year. It is only one game in 2020 that he played the first team game as a center fielder, and it remains to be seen whether he will take on one axis of the outfield with a sense of stability in the actual game.
Of course, it doesn’t seem easy to carry the heavy burden with Lee Seong-gyu alone. It becomes difficult when there is no player to support him. ‘Veteran’ Kim Heon-gon must also change, and outfield backup agents such as Kim Seong-yoon must work hard.