It’s a new year for the ‘second Oh Seung-hwan’ Park Young-hyun (21-KT Wiz) to finally make his presence felt as a closer. It will be interesting to see if the youngest holder can carry his momentum into the final innings.
KT Wiz is faced with a situation in the Stobrigue where their steady closer is set to become a free agent and move to another team. On November 22 last year, Kim Jae-yoon signed a four-year, 5.8 billion won free agent contract with the Samsung Lions, leaving a void in the closer position.
Drafted by KT with the 13th overall pick in the 2015 rookie draft, Kim Jae-yoon is a league-leading closer who converted from catcher to pitcher and recorded 169 career saves until last year. He recently posted 30 saves for the third consecutive year, anchoring the Wizards’ back end.
However, KT doesn’t seem to be too worried about Kim’s departure. That’s because they have a new closer in Park Young-hyun, who was drafted by KT in the first round in 022 and has been nicknamed the second Oh Seung-hwan.
Young-hyun has been recognized as a closing prospect since his amateur days.
Former coach Lee Sung-yeol, who coached Young-hyun at Yushin, explained his appeal by saying, “(Park) throws like a wild horse and pitches short innings strongly”.
In his rookie season, Young-hyun lived up to his billing as the next Oh Seung-hwan, going 1-0 with a 3.66 ERA in 52 games and two shutouts. In Game 2 of the playoffs, he set a new record for the youngest postseason save (19 years and six days old) and became a national star.
Park Young-hyun showed off an upgraded delivery last year, going 3-3 with four saves in 68 games (75⅓ innings) and a 2.75 ERA with 32 holds. He beat veteran Noh Kyung-eun (SSG) by two games to become the KBO’s youngest holder, and finished fourth in bullpen innings pitched behind Noh, Lim Ki-young (KIA), and Kim Myung-shin (Doosan). 카지노사이트 Add to that a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games and valuable experience in his first Korean Series.
Park was often used as a closer in the regular season and fall baseball last year in place of Kim Jae-yoon, and he did a great job in the ninth inning.
While Lee has yet to make an official announcement, Young-hyun is the No. 1 candidate to replace Kim in the 2024 season. There is a good chance that Park will fulfill his dream of becoming a closer in his third year.
The player’s determination is exceptional.
“I’m very excited for next year. “Of course, I’m embarrassed that there’s so much talk about me being the next KT closer, but I hope I can take that position. It’s been my dream to play that role, and I need to prepare better to do so,” he said candidly.
When asked why he wants to be a closer so badly, Park said, “I think closers are much more comfortable than set-up men. You have a lot of time to prepare, so you can prepare perfectly. As a middle reliever, you don’t know when you’re going to go out in the fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth inning, but as a closer, you only have to close one inning in the ninth. Of course, it’s a lot of pressure, but if I can overcome it, I think I’ll be fine.”
Park plans to seek advice from his seniors, including his predecessor Kim Jae-yoon and new veteran Woo Kyu-min, when he is confirmed as the closer in spring training next month.
“My role hasn’t been decided yet, but when the closer position is confirmed, (Kim) Jae-yoon will call me a lot and ask for advice,” Park said. “In the case of Woo Gyu-min, he was a perfect bullpen pitcher at Samsung, but he had a bad year in 2023, but I think we will have synergy together in 2024, and I’m grateful that he came.”