With the upcoming rookie draft slowly gaining traction, we take a look at who the Kia Tigers will select in the first round. With a number of good pitching prospects, the Tigers, who will pick sixth overall, are likely to select a right-handed fireballer with good physical attributes.
The 2024 KBO Draft will be held on September 14. With just over a month to go, there have been some major shifts in the first-round selection landscape.
First, Masan Yongma High School pitcher Jang Hyun-seok, the top overall pick, announced his intention to play in the United States. Recently, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With Jang Hyun-seok’s name gone from the first round of the KBO Rookie Draft, it’s now a “top two” system of Jang Chung High School pitcher Hwang Jun-seo and Incheon High School pitcher Kim Taek-yeon. There is virtually no chance that Hwang Jun-seo, a left-hander with a 150km/h fastball, and Kim Taek-yeon, who showed his true colors at the recent Presidential High School Baseball Tournament, will fall below the third overall pick.
From the third overall pick, it’s the Chuncheon National Era. First, Gyeongbuk High School pitcher Jeon Mir, Gangneung High School pitcher Cho Dae-hyun, Hwimun High School pitcher Kim Hwi-gun, and Jangchung High School pitcher Yuk Sun-yeop are expected to enter the next round of options as right-handed fireballer prospects.
Jeon Mir, the MVP of the Cheongryonggi National High School Baseball Tournament, has been one of the most highly rated players in recent years. He is a two-hitting, two-way player who has shown that he can play both.
As a hitter, he hit .338 with 26 doubles, three home runs, 31 RBIs, a .513 slugging percentage, and a .519 on-base percentage in official competition this year. As a pitcher, he went 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 48 strikeouts, 20 walks, and a 0.87 WHIP in 17 appearances.
In recent years, there has been a growing consensus that Jeon has more potential to grow as an outfielder than a pitcher. The Lotte Giants, who drafted Kim Min-seok in the first round last year and have been utilizing him well, are likely to keep a close eye on Jeon this year.
KIA, desperate for a 2R card, targets right-handed fireballer with ‘Hampyeong Approved School’
Of course, KIA will have to wait for Lotte, Samsung Lions, and NC Dinos to nominate and select their first-round pick. The current consensus seems to be that the team will pick from among Cho Dae-hyun, Kim Hwi-gun, and Yuk Sun-yeop, all of whom have already been selected by other teams.
Cho Dae-hyun, who, like Jeon Mir, was a two-hitter, has said himself that he will focus more on pitching in the future. In 18 official games this year, Cho went 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA, 76 strikeouts, 27 walks, and a 0.83 WHIP. It was unfortunate that his stamina has been lower than earlier in the year due to digesting otitis media.
In nine official games this year, Kim went 2-3 with a 2.12 ERA, 48 strikeouts, 21 walks, and a 1.00 WHIP. In Kim’s case, the order of selection could be determined by how teams view his struggles with velocity issues. In his most recent outing, he was relatively steady in the President’s Cup.
In 12 games this year, Yuk went 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA, 33 strikeouts, nine walks, and a 1.05 WHIP. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t see more action due to his team’s early exit from the national tournament and a hard-hitting injury.
KIA will be anxiously watching their first-round pick on rookie draft day, keeping a close eye on the candidates ahead of them. The first-round pick is even more important as the team lost its second-round pick to Kiwoom Heroes last year in a trade that brought in catcher Joo Hyo-sang.
A KIA official said, “Since we don’t have the second-round pick this year, the name of the pitching prospect to be selected in the first round is more important, and we have to watch the clubs’ choices first. Now that Hampyeong’s second-team development system is well established, we are confident that the players who come to our team will develop well. This year, we have a lot of good pitching resources, so we plan to focus on pitchers in the third round.”스포츠토토
Without a second-round pick, which pitching prospect will KIA take in the first round this year? The picture of Won-seok, who can throw a 150km/h fastball, entering the ‘Hampyeong Approval School’ and growing up is a pleasant one for KIA fans.
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