The 19-year-old rookie was capped twice by the national team upon his debut. He won an Asian Games gold medal at a young age and received military service benefits. Even though his path to fame is wide open, he is not relaxing. Kim Dong-heon (20), a second-year catcher at Kiwoom, is the main character.
Kim joined Moon Hyun-bin (Hanwha) on stage at the 2024 KBO Rookie Orientation held at the Daejeon Convention Center on Sept. 9. A year ago, he was one of the rookies undergoing training at the same venue, but today, as a senior who experienced the pros first, he met the juniors and shared his thoughts on being a rookie.
“At this time last year, I was in training like my friends in front of me, and I’m glad to see them here after a year,” said Kim Dong-heon. “I remember preparing hard to go to the first team spring camp. I came to the pros because I have my own strengths. If you utilize your strengths well, 안전놀이터 you will be able to play anywhere.”
Kim Dong-heon, who was drafted by Kiwoom in the second round (12th overall) last year after graduating from Chungam High School, quickly established himself in the first team in his first year. He started the season as a backup catcher after making the opening roster through spring training and exhibition games, and then moved into the starting lineup in the second half. As the team slipped in the standings, Kiwoom turned to rebuilding and pushed Kim Dong-heon.
It seemed like a smooth transition to the first team, but it wasn’t.
He had to fight off competition from the team’s senior catchers, including Lee Ji-young, Kim Jae-hyun, and Kim Xiang. “Opportunities don’t come naturally,” says Kim. It was hard to keep playing first team games, and I prepared desperately. If you get sick, someone else gets the chance. We need to pay attention to injury management,” he said. “To achieve our goals, we need to prepare well from now on. It’s too late once the season starts. Team workouts are good, but if you do a lot of individual workouts, you’ll get better,” he advised the rookies.
Kim Dong-heon, who takes the pitching lead without a bench sign, has shown uncharacteristic stability and defense for a rookie. In 102 games last year, he batted .631 with two doubles, two home runs, and 17 RBIs in 211 at-bats. His strong shoulders helped him throw out a third of stolen bases.
He has been called up to the national team twice since his debut.
Last year, he was capped at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September and the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) in November. Both tournaments had an age limit of 24-25 years old and 3-4 years into their professional careers in an effort to change the generation, and Kim Dong-heon, who quickly rose to prominence as a catcher, was paired with Kim Hyung-joon (NC). While Kim wore the starter’s mask for most of the game, it was a good experience for Kim off the bench.
“My favorite moment was when I won the gold medal at the Asian Games. I was receiving the ball on the bench, so I didn’t see the last moment (of the gold medal), but it was the most memorable moment in my baseball career.” “I was given the opportunity to play for the national team because I was younger than my ability. In the future, I want to be a player who goes to the national team not because of my age but because of my skills.”
This year, Kim will likely spend a full season as Kiwoom’s starting catcher.
Kiwoom has been slow to re-sign veteran catcher Lee Ji-young, who was released as a free agent. With Kim Dong-heon, there is no urgency. That means the team has high hopes and trust in Kim.
Kim said, “My performance in the first year was personally disappointing. This year, I’m preparing more. The players here will also play baseball together this year, but it’s not easy to be in the first team with ordinary preparation. There are many players who try harder than that. I hope they put in more effort than they think,” he advised, adding, “I don’t have any personal record goals this year. There is no guarantee of playing in the first team. I will try to stay in the first team. As a catcher, I want to play more innings and get more hits than last year. As I get older, 파워볼사이트 the fans’ interest and expectations increase, and it’s not easy to be forgiven for making mistakes like when I was a rookie. I want to improve my skills and become a player who is cool to the fans and respected by my teammates.”