Kim Min-seok (Lotte) and Moon Hyun-bin (Hanwha), both born in 2004, have a lot in common. They were both right-handed hitting infielders who made a name for themselves in high school, and both broke through to the professional ranks in the top rounds. Kim Min-seok was the third overall pick in the first round of the 2023 KBO Draft, and Moon Hyun-bin was the 11th overall pick in the second round for Lotte and Hanwha, respectively.
Their professional roles in the middle infield are similar. Kim Min-seok was converted to an outfielder shortly after being drafted and served as Lotte’s starting center fielder for one season. Moon Hyun-bin left the infield to play center field in a lineup that included former Golden Glove second baseman Jung Eun-won, but returned to second base in the second half of the season. Moon and Jeong are also among the “two” rookies who have gotten regular at-bats this season. He hasn’t had a single roster spot expunged since his first year as a pro.
Their stats at the plate are equally impressive. As of November 11, Kim Min-seok is batting .258 with 100 hits, three home runs, 38 RBIs, 16 doubles, and an OPS of .655 in 125 games, while Moon Hyun-bin is batting .260 with 109 hits, four home runs, 45 RBIs, five doubles, and an OPS of .663 in 134 games. With their quality hitting and consistent play, they became the seventh and eighth high school rookies in history to reach the 100-hit plateau.
Moon Hyun-bin was the first to reach the 100-hit plateau through the NC game against Daejeon on Feb. 2, while Kim Min-seok completed his triple-digit hitting streak against Sasik Doosan on Feb. 11. Prior to the 2023 season, there were only six high school rookies with 100 hits: Kim Jae-hyun (LG-134) in 1994, Lee Seung-yeop (Samsung-104) in 1995, Park Jin-man (Hyundai-102) in 1996, Jung Sung-hoon (Haetae-107) in 1999, Lee Jung-hoo (Nexen-179) in 2017, and Kang Baek-ho (KT-153) in 2018. Just by looking at the names of the previous players, this is a difficult record to achieve.
As such, the players, who are both ahead and behind in the season, are providing positive motivation for each other. Kim Min-seok hit his first home run on May 18 against Daejeon Hanwha. “I told (Kim) to congratulate him,” Moon Hyun-bin, who watched from the sidelines, said in a later interview, “He’s so good that I’m trying harder.”
The following month, Moon homered in two consecutive games against Sajik Lotte on April 14-15. Kim Min-seok, who met Moon shortly after the 100-hit game against Doosan, also spoke of him, saying, “(Moon) Hyun-bin is a player who is so wild and has a bad attitude.” “I want to say congratulations again to him for hitting 100 hits before me,” he said.안전놀이터
Kim Min-seok and Moon have been friends since their youth national team days. The first chapter of their story as close friends and good-natured competitors is coming to a close. We look forward to seeing them take their game to the next level next season.