Will Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon (NC Dinos), who have grown significantly through two international competitions this year, continue their steep growth next season.
The NC Dinosaurs received better-than-expected results for this season. Before the season’s opening, Yang Eui-ji (Doosan Bears), Noh Jin-hyuk (Lotte Giants), and Won Jong-hyun (Kium Heroes) were considered as the most likely last-place candidates as they left the team due to free agency, but ended the season in the fourth place.
There were various reasons behind NC’s performance. First, Super Ace Eric Peddy (Chicago White Sox) led the starting lineup with 20 wins, 6 losses, 209 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.00. The excellent leadership of head coach Kang In-kwon made NC one team, and the leadership shown by veterans such as Son Ah-seop, Park Min-woo and Park Gun-woo accelerated the rise.헤라카지노
On top of that, there was another valuable harvest. That is the rapid growth of Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon. In particular, the two players shared the commonality that they both wore national flags at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and the Asian Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023, which took place this year.
Kim Ju-won is an infield right-handed pitcher who was designated by the NC Dinosaurs as the sixth player in the second round of the first round in 2021. Playing mostly as a shortstop, Kim displayed his potential by posting a batting average of 0.230 (101 hits in 439 times at bat) with 15 homers and 63 RBIs until last year. Notably, he garnered 10 hits out of the fence in the 2022 season, demonstrating his natural slugging capability.
As Noh left for Lotte Giants, Kim Ju-won, who started this season as the starting shortstop, faced an ordeal. He only posted a monthly batting average of 0.200 in June and dropped to 0.191 in July. He also became the No. 1 player in this category by making a total of 30 errors. It was comforting that he hit 10 homers to achieve double-digit homers for the second consecutive year. His final performance this season was 0.233 (94 hits in 403 at-bats) with a batting average of 10 homers, 54 RBIs and 15 steals in 127 games.
For Kim Joo-won, the Hangzhou Asian Games, which took place from late September to early October, became a turning point. He scored winning hits in both the Super Round match against China and the final against Taiwan, driving the national team led by coach Ryu Joong-il to win the title. He played in all six games and ranked first in home runs in the tournament with two home runs.
His experience in Hangzhou strengthened Kim Joo-won. In the postseason that followed, he displayed even sharper batting performance, and firmly defended the NC infield with a comfortable and stable defense. Notably, Baekmi hit in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the playoffs against the KT Wiz. At that time, Kim Joo-won caught Oh Yoon-seok’s hit with a sliding catch with the bases loaded with two outs when the NC was edging ahead 3-2, and finished the game. NC, led by Kim Joo-won’s performance, unfortunately failed to reach the Korean Series, but this year it won six consecutive games in the fall season and nine consecutive postseason games, including Game 4 of the 2020 Korean Series. This was the most consecutive wins in fall baseball that the Haitai Tigers set in 1987-1988 over two seasons.
“I feel less nervous now that I have a big game (in the Asian Games),” Kim said during the postseason. He also showed off his presence at the APBC after the season. With solid defense, he had a batting average of .429 (six hits in 14 times at bat) and two RBIs. Recognized for his contributions, Kim was also named the Most Valuable Player for each position by the organizing committee after the event.
Kim Hyung-joon, who hit .229 (76 hits in 332 at-bats) with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 185 games by the 2023 season after receiving NC’s nomination as the ninth overall in the second round in 2018, has also clearly grown a step through his experience on the international stage. Although he suffered from frequent injuries last year and this season, he contributed to Korea’s victory by leading pitchers well as the main catcher at the Asian Games. During the Asian Games, NC struggled, and an NC official who met after the tournament said, “I’m sorry that all the players, including (left-hander) Kim Young-kyu and Kim Joo-won, were missing, but I didn’t know Kim Hyung-joon’s vacancy would be this big.”
Kim Hyung-joon continued his performance in fall baseball as well. In the wild-card game against Doosan, he had two hits, two homers and four RBIs in five times at bat. He showed little performance in hitting in the semi-playoff against SSG Landers and the playoff against KT, but led pitchers well with stable leads. During the postseason, Kang In-kwon, the manager of the team, said, “I highly appreciate them. Given that he is leading pitchers overall despite his lack of experience as a young player, he seems to be a player who can grow further. He is displaying good enough performance even now,” as he showed great presence to applaud.
Since then, he has assumed the position of the main home turf of the Korean national team at the APBC. He wore a catcher’s mask as the mainstay in all four games, and blocked all attempts to steal bases by Yuki Okabayashi and Kaito Kozono in the preliminary match against Japan. Japanese coach Atsunori Inaba said that the Korean catcher’s handling and throwing were excellent.
Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon have shown steady growth this year. However, Kang In-kwon, the coach, was not satisfied and demanded further development. To become a strong team, the existence of a center line (catcher, shortstop, second baseman, center fielder), which is the core of defense, is very important. Kim Joo-won (special exemption from military service at the Asian Games) and Kim Hyung-joon (Sangmu), who are in charge of shortstop and catcher respectively, have both resolved military issues and proved that they are the target of playing a key role in the team for the next 10 years.
During the CAMP 1 (NC’s closing camp) held at the end of last month, head coach Kang said, “The players who settled in this year should grow a little more.