“I’m focusing on one place”
In 2021, the KBO League was called the ‘Shim Jun-seok League’. This was due to the presence of the “extraordinary prospect” Shim Jun-seok, who caught the eye of KBO and Major League scouts with a fastball that reached over 150 kilometers per hour. Now, he has signed an international amateur contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and is trying to make it to the big leagues, but there was a lot of interest in what team he would wear if he were to enter the KBO Draft.
Last year, Sim Jun-seok was the center of attention ahead of the draft, but this year, it’s Jang Hyun-seok of Masan Yongmago. Like Shim, Jang is a “fireballer” who throws a fastball that can reach up to 156 kilometers per hour, drawing the attention of domestic and international scouts. While Sim Jun-seok was criticized for his lack of pitches in the high school league, Jang Hyun-seok is said to have better control than Sim Jun-seok.토토사이트
As the KBO Draft approaches, Jang Hyun-seok showed off his ‘overpowering’ pitching at the 78th Cheongryonggi National High School Baseball Championship on April 18-19. In a game against Gwangju Jinheung High School in the Round of 32, Jang threw 47 pitches, allowed one hit, walked one and struck out six in 3⅓ innings, and his fastball reached a whopping 154 kilometers. As you can see from the record, it was a dominant performance.
Jang Hyun-seok started the game by striking out the first batter he faced, Park Sung-ha, in the bottom of the second inning with the bases loaded, trailing 0-1 before the game was suspended due to rain on the 18th. He then retired the center field lineup of Kim Ho-jin, Kim Jae-min, and Lee Joo-hyun in order in the third inning, and shut down Jinheung-go’s bats once again in the fourth. In particular, he struck out four batters in a row from the top of the second inning.
The game between Jinhungo and Yongmago was suspended due to rain on the 18th, and Jang Hyun-seok took the mound even after the game resumed on the 19th. However, at 8 a.m., he didn’t seem to be in his best form from the 18th due to the lack of rest. Jang was hit by a walk to Ryu Xiu and a double to Kang Joo-hyung in the first inning, putting runners on second and third with no outs. This is where Jang Hyun-seok showed why he is the center of attention for KBO and major league scouts.
Jang struck out the first batter he faced, Park Sung-ha, to get out of the jam, and then got the next batter, Kim Ho-jin, to hit a slider for two strikes in a very unfavorable count at 3B, and then cooked him with a grounder to second base. He then induced a grounder to 3B to Kim Jae-min to end the inning, and Jang roared in celebration as he walked off the mound.
His top velocity on the 19th was 151 km/h, down from 154 km/h on the 18th, and he struggled with his fastball, which he was unable to fully utilize. With this in mind, it’s clear that Jang’s fastball wasn’t the only reason he’s garnering so much attention and was the only amateur to make the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) team.
If he does enter the KBO Draft, the Hanwha Eagles, who are in last place and hold the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, will have another top prospect on their hands, and like Shim, Jang Hyun-seok is in the midst of a big decision: whether to pursue a major league career or enter the KBO Draft.
When asked about his decision after the game on the 19th, Jang laughed and said, “No comment,” but when asked if he had made a decision, he said, “I wouldn’t say it’s a decision, but I’m leaning toward one place. But it’s not a huge difference. I think it’s still a difficult time to decide on a personal path because there are still a lot of years left in the Blue Dragon period, 6-4 or 5-5.”
When will Jang Hyun-seok make his decision? “I think it will be after the end of the Blue Dragon period. I think it should be after the end of the Blue Dragon period, so that my teammates won’t be harmed and I will be at ease. I think it would be best when it’s over,” he explained. Even with the rainy season as a factor, everything should be finalized by the end of the month.
Jang’s parents leave all the decision-making to their son. “My parents always leave everything up to me,” says Jang. I’m the only one who has to make the decision, but I have a lot of worries,” he said, adding, “There are many fans who support me going overseas, but there are also fans who expect me to come home. It’s because they care so much,” he smiled.
Jang Hyun-seok will be competing at the Hangzhou Asian Games this year alongside his ‘older brothers’ in professional uniforms. Whether he tries out for the U.S. or joins a KBO team, winning a gold medal will come with a huge benefit: exemption from military service. This can only help Jang in any situation. “It’s disappointing (not making the U-18 national team),” he said. I had dreams of representing the youth when I was in elementary and middle school. “I don’t know what I’ll do at the Asian Games, but when I go, I want to show my hard work and sincerity and throw my ball well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jang Hyun-seok’s Yongmago defeated Jinheunggo on the 19th to advance to the round of 16 and will face Bibongo on the 21st for a quarterfinal ticket. What kind of pitching will Jang Hyun-seok, who is happily worried about his career, show?