Moon Dong-ju, a big bowl to mark the end of the dark ages of fostering

Hanwha Eagles right-hander Moon Dong-joo received the 2023 KBO League Rookie of the Year award on the 27th, ending the “Dark Age of Hanwha’s Fostering.”

Hanwha failed to produce a Rookie of the Year winner from 2006 when Ryu Hyun-jin won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards at the same time last year, but Moon Dong-ju’s award relieved its regret for the first time in 17 years.

Moon Dong-joo received the Rookie of the Year trophy at the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Awards held in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul and said, “The trophy is heavy, and I think I have to endure this weight well.”

He added, “It’s been 17 years since Ryu Hyun-jin won the Rookie of the Year award, and I’ll give this honor to (Hanwha) fans.”

In fact, Hanwha has had many opportunities to produce the Rookie of the Year award winners. This is because he ranked the bottom eight times in total from 2009 to last year, gaining many opportunities to be nominated in the top order of the rookie draft.

Hanwha, however, has repeatedly failed to foster it. Most of the rookie players failed to settle down on the professional stage and disappeared from their memories. In 2018, he also released the first designated pitcher Sung Si-heon a year after joining the team.

I was just as unlucky as the nurturing problem. Hanwha often missed the opportunity to select excellent players from all over the country due to the first nomination system in which they were selected first in their respective regions. In addition, NC Dinos and kt wiz established one after another, handing over several opportunities for the top order.

Against the backdrop of Hanwha’s prolonged dark age, the failure to supply and demand promising players is also largely located. Moon Dong-ju’s win of the Rookie of the Year award is even more meaningful. Hanwha fans regard Moon Dong-ju as the “terminator” who marks the end of the dark age.

Moon Dong-ju has grown well since joining Hanwha through the first round of the 2022 Rookie Draft held in August 2021. At that time, Hanwha nominated Moon Dong-ju, who was attending Gwangju Jinheung High School, as a national team selection method according to the changed rookie draft rules when the KIA Tigers selected Kim Do-young, an infielder at Dongsung High School in Gwangju.

After twists and turns, Hanwha, which has a special rising star, focused on raising Moon Dong-ju throughout the company. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho also handed over the change-up directly to Moon Dong-ju in 2022 when he was working as a second-tier coach.

This year, Moon Dong-ju’s personal maximum pitching innings was limited to 120 innings ahead of the opening. It was to protect players with injuries in mind. Moon Dong-ju stood tall as Hanwha’s next ace pitcher, living up to expectations.

He pitched in 23 regular season games this year with an excellent performance of 8 wins, 8 losses and a 3.72 ERA, and threw a 160km fastball for the first time in the history of the KBO League.

That’s not all. Moon Dong-ju also confirmed his international competitiveness by playing the ace of the national team at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. He won the gold medal in the final against Taiwan by leading the team to a 2-0 victory with three hits and seven strikeouts in six innings.

He also started the first game of the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) against Australia on the 16th and pitched not bad with 102 pitches, five hits (one home run) and four walks, five strikeouts and two runs in five ⅔ innings.

Moon Dong-ju is growing beyond Hanwha into the future of Korean baseball. Fans draw a bright blueprint looking at Moon Dong-ju’s steep growth.

In fact, it hasn’t been long since Moon Dong-ju worked as a pitcher. He started pitching in earnest in his second year of high school, and it wasn’t until his third year of high school that he began to learn breaking balls such as curves.

Moon Dong-ju has not been obsessed with techniques. Influenced by his father, Moon Jun-heum, director of the Jangheung County Office’s athletics team, he was faithful to basic training such as pitching form and lower body muscle training. Moon Dong-ju, who grew up calmly step by step, finally began to blossom. Moon Dong-ju’s era is opening. I’m even more looking forward to his 2024 season.


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