Here are five second-year players who are flying high in the KBO.

안전놀이터After adjusting to the league last year, their first year in the league, they are realizing their full potential in their second year.

They are Kim Do-young, Choi Ji-min (KIA Tigers), Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha Eagles), Park Young-hyun (KT Wiz), and Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte Giants).

KIA infielder Kim Do-young was sidelined with an injury at the start of the season, but returned in late June and has been hitting like crazy ever since. As of April 4, he is batting .308 (60-for-195) with three home runs and an OPS of 0.833. As part of KIA’s table-setting staff, he is also responsible for the hot corner of the infield. Kim Do-young is the only other second-year infield player.

KT pitcher Park Young-hyun. Suwon | Seung-seop Choi Reporter

KT Wiz right-handed reliever Park Young-hyun joined the Hangzhou AG national team this season in full bloom. After making a name for himself last year by becoming the youngest player to record a postseason save, he’s been one of KT’s best relievers this season, leading the league with 28 saves in four days.

“I think it’s because I changed my pitching stance during the offseason to make my arm swing a little bigger,” said Park, who has a 3.13 ERA in over 60 innings pitched.

Moon Dong-ju of the Hanwha Eagles. Jamsil | Park Jin-up

Hanwha Eagles right-hander Moon Dong-ju is the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award this season. Moon finished the season with an 8-8 record and a 3.72 ERA after his last start against LG on March 3.

He was highly anticipated after joining Hanwha as the No. 1 overall pick in the KBO, but he was unable to play a full season last year due to frequent injuries, and looking back on this season, he said, “I’m very happy that I’m not sick and doing well. I’m not sick and I’m doing well, so I think I’ve achieved my goal,” he said.

He throws a 160-kilometer fastball and will play a key role in the AG national team.

KIA left-hander Choi Ji-min. Literature | Kang Young-jo

Left-hander Choi Ji-min, a member of the KIA pitching staff, is another player who fulfilled his potential this season after flying under the radar last year. He was drafted in the first round of the 2022 KBO Draft, but was unable to overcome hitters in the first team with a fastball that was only in the low 140 kilometers per hour.

However, from the second team last year, he improved his velocity by 8 to 9 kilometers and developed into a monster throwing up to 150 kilometers under KIA’s systematic management. “With coach Son Seung-rak of the second team, I trained on things I hadn’t done before, such as drive lines, and I got more twists in my body, and as a result, my fastball increased a lot,” Choi said.

As a result of her improved command, control, and confidence, she has gone 4-3 with 11 strikeouts, three saves, and a 2.04 ERA this season. Based on his performance this season, he was unexpectedly named to the AG national team.

Lotte Giants outfielder Yoon Dong-hee. Go Chuck | Park Jin-up Reporter

Lotte Giants outfielder Yoon Dong-hee was not a starter until the beginning of the season. He was just a second-year player bouncing around the Future League. But since May, he’s been getting more playing time, and as of April, he’s batting .297 (93-for-313) with two home runs and a .699 OPS, making him an integral part of the Lotte outfield.

Yoon didn’t make the AG team, but he’s been performing well enough that there’s been some talk that he should have been selected as a replacement for Kiwoom Heroes outfielder Lee Jung-hoo after he went down with an injury. Former Lotte manager Sutton said of him, “He’s a steady player. He can produce a strong batting average and is showing a lot of maturity.”

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