Kiwoom Heroes second-year outfielder Park Soo-jong is preparing to take his chance in the outfield where top star Lee Jung-hoo is leaving.
Kiwoom finished at the bottom of the league for the first time since 2011 with 58 wins, three draws, and 83 losses this year. On top of that, their biggest star, Lee Jung-hoo, will be leaving the team next year. After announcing his intentions to play in the major leagues in a post prior to the season, Lee had his season cut short due to injury, and despite batting just 3-for-8 in 86 games (330 at-bats, 105 hits) with six home runs, 45 RBIs, and an .861 OPS, he is already receiving offers from major league clubs.
With Lee’s departure to the major leagues virtually assured, Kiwoom has begun looking for players to replace Lee in the outfield next year. In particular, 바카라사이트 Lee Joo-hyung, who was traded to LG for Choi Won-tae, has raised expectations by batting .326 (215-for-70) with six home runs, 36 RBIs, and an .897 OPS in 69 games.
Seeing Lee’s potential, Kiwoom found another gem at the end of the season. Park Soo-jong, who joined Kiwoom in 2022 as a developmental player.
Park didn’t make it to the first team in his first year with the club, but this year he made his dream first-team debut.
After getting a taste of the first team in July, Park was dropped back to the second team in September. On September 21, he started for the first time since his debut against NC and made a strong impression with a three-hit game. He went on to hit for the cycle, finishing the season with a stellar 23-game hitting streak of 4-for-22 (19-for-45) with three home runs, seven RBIs, and a .993 OPS.
“This year could be my turning point, but I always have the idea that I shouldn’t get complacent and be satisfied,” said Park, who is currently in his final camp at Taejang Baseball Stadium in Wonju, Gangwon-do. I haven’t had a completely successful season yet, so I’m always trying to do better. I don’t want to think about what I did well this year for too long,” he said, emphasizing the importance of putting this year’s performance behind him and working harder.
“Last year, I worked out in a cool way, but this year, I’m preparing for next year by thinking about what I lacked,” Park said. “I didn’t face many pitchers this year, but there were some good things, so I’m discussing them with my hitting coach and making improvements. In the future, I am training to make more strong hits,” he said about the direction of the final camp.
“When I hit three hits in my debut, I didn’t expect to finish the season in such a good way,” said Park, who smiled, “I just wanted to do well. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that came my way. I think I just thought I had to work hard. I got a lot of confidence from my good performance.”
Park has also made some impressive plays on defense this year.
Coach Moon Chan-jong, who took over as the first team first base and outfield defense coach after the regular season ended, said, “(Park’s) defense is just the best. He’s a player you can feel comfortable watching when the ball is in play. He has a good shoulder, but because he switched from the infield to the outfield, the time it takes to catch and throw the ball is really fast,” he said, praising Park’s defense.
“Personally, I don’t think I’ve done a good job defensively. There were a lot of passive plays because I hadn’t experienced first-team hitters’ balls. I think I tried to play it safe with the balls that I could have caught. Now that I have a lot of experience, I think I can be more active and show good play next year,” he promised.
Park, who played shortstop in college before switching to the outfield in his senior year, said, “When I was a freshman, I couldn’t throw the ball because of Ips. I wanted to make a good showing as a freshman, but I was nervous and made a mistake. At first, I thought it was nothing, but before I knew it, Ips was coming. Luckily, when I moved to the outfield, I didn’t have to worry about throwing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have regrets about shortstop, but now I’m dedicated to the outfield,” he said, explaining why he switched to the outfield.
Lee’s move to the major leagues could be another opportunity for Park. “If you’re a baseball player, you naturally want to be a starter,” Park said. Of course, I don’t think I’m a starter yet, but I’m trying to survive the competition. I will do better next year,” he said, looking forward to next season.