Choi Ji-hoon (26-SSG) is the oldest member of the Hangzhou Asian Games baseball team, along with Choi Won-jun (KIA). His presence shows how much the average age of the baseball team has dropped. Choi was one of the “youngest” players at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March.
The national team has undergone a generational change after the so-called WBC disaster. The KBO has chosen to field a team of players who are “25 years old or younger or in their fourth year of play” for the tournament. Even the wild cards were selected from players aged 29 and under. The goal is the same as in previous tournaments: gold, but the field is narrower. As a result, there were some concerns about the “young team” facing off against tough opponents Taiwan and Japan.
When we met at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, where the team trained on the 24th, Choi sensed a different atmosphere. It’s a positive one.
“The atmosphere that can only come out when young players get together is well created,” he said, “There is a unique fighting spirit, and you can feel the burning atmosphere.” “We’ve only been together for two days, but we’re already very close,” Choi continued, “and I think we’ll be able to work well together as a team when we get to the competition.”
The younger players, who are eager to make the leap to the next level, are using the national team as a learning experience. Players who were enemies in the league before the call-up are now teammates working towards the same goal. They watch each other train, learn from each other, and actively share their own know-how.토토사이트
“There’s a lot to learn from training with the best baseball players from each team,” said Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), who will play center field for the national team at the tournament. “We’re also having a lot of conversations about how to attack pitchers’ pitches that were hard to hit in the league.”
For Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), the only high school pitcher on the national team, it’s a great opportunity to grow. Jang, a “top prospect” who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers last month, said he hopes to learn the slider of Ko Woo-seok (LG) and the splitter of Na Kyun-an (Lotte) while on the team. “I want to ask the seniors how they deal with hitters, their structure, their ability, and their game management,” he said.
Age doesn’t play a big role in this team, as the players are of similar ages. There is no senior/junior relationship in the team now, and everyone wants to “grow up” together. “This is the first time I’ve seen (Jang) throw a ball, and I think there’s a lot to learn from him,” said Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha), who is helping Jang adjust to the national team. “I hope we can get to know each other and talk more about baseball.”