“Not like an 18-year-old catcher”.
Kia Tigers 2024 rookie catcher Lee Sang-jun, 18, is turning heads at the final camp in Okinawa. He doesn’t look like a third-year high school catcher yet. His strong shoulders, stable catching ability, and power swing show that he has the talent to be a great catcher. “He doesn’t look like an 18-year-old catcher,” said manager Kim Jong-kook and his coaches.
Lee was selected in the third round of the 2024 KBO Draft. At the time of his selection, he stood at 182 centimeters and 108 kilograms. He was a starter at Gyeonggi High School and was considered the best high school catcher in the country. In his sophomore year, he became the batting champion and home run champion. He was expected to be the future starting catcher of KIA.
However, the camp in Okinawa has given him hope that his evolution will be accelerated. He works on his concentration every day with battery coach Kim Sang-hoon and instructor Takeshi. Lee is praised for his fast and accurate delivery, as well as his catching and blocking. He even hit a 140-meter home run with so much power that it flew to the backscreen under the scoreboard.
Battery coach Kim Sang-hoon said,
“He is still young and lacks details in defense, but he is not an 18-year-old catcher in terms of his strong shoulders and catching ability. Compared to rookie catchers in the past, his level is quite high. He’s smart, greedy, and quick to learn. He has a strong will to succeed, which is very promising. If he continues to improve his flexibility and lower body agility, he will improve.”
There is a glimpse of Lee’s determination. He weighs over 100 kilograms, so losing weight is his biggest challenge. He has lost over 10 kilograms since his nomination. “I lost 8 kilograms in Gwangju. I lost another three kilograms while training in the Okinawa camp. 먹튀검증토토사이트 Losing weight actually gave me more power. The ball got faster and went further. In the off-season, I need to lose more weight, up to 97 or 98 kilograms,” he laughed.
He was also pleased with his first professional training session. “It’s good that the pros train in parts. My defense was a big problem, but I’m learning a lot from coach Kim Sang-hoon Takeshi. I’m paying a lot of attention to my catching. I don’t want to be told that I can miss because I’m a rookie. I have a good shoulder, so when I steal a base, he tells me to make it a rundown. (My delivery time) is about 1.8 seconds. Lee said that puts me in the fastball category. I need to throw more accurately,” he laughed.
Another confidence booster is hitting.
There are expectations that he will be a slugger-type catcher. In the final camp, he followed the advice of coach Lee Bum-ho and Hong Sewan and changed to a simple swing. “He said, ‘If you have good power, why try to hit it hard, and if you hit an outfield home run, you can score two runs. I’m taking simple, short swings. I just did what he told me to do, and the ball hit the scoreboard,” he said with confidence.
“My goal was to lose weight, and I’m proud of myself. I need to keep it up. I was always confident in my batting. Rookie of the Year can only be achieved by playing a lot of games. My goal is to make it to the first team. I want to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes and stay in the first team as long as possible. They want me to hit 20 home runs in the first or second team. I’ll give it a shot,” he said.