The most variable positions for the Kia Tigers in the 2024 season are first base, third base, and corner infield. Kim Do-young, who established himself as the main third baseman, was diagnosed with a ruptured medial collateral ligament and scoliosis in his left thumb while he was headfirst sliding with Japan at the final of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship on April 19.
He is out for four months. He can play in the opening game of the 2024 season, which will take place on March 23. However, chances are high that he will not be able to properly engage in training due to rehabilitation during the spring camp. Hence, in the worst-case scenario, he may not be able to play in the opening game.
Utility agent Ryu Ji-hyuk (Samsung Lions) should no longer be found. KIA needs to use Byun Woo-hyuk as third baseman, or another alternative. If Byun plays first base, the existing multi-backup Kim Kyu-sung can fill the third base. Given that Kim Kyu-sung has a high percentage of defensive backs for shortstop Park Chan-ho and second baseman Kim Sun-bin, someone else is needed.
One of the main characters is Park Min, who was sent to the Canberra Cavalier in the Australian professional baseball league. It is not the end. “Jung Hae-won, who filled the ranks of the Futures League this year, has grown further through this camp,” manager Kim Jong-kook said. Immediately after returning home from finishing training at the end of last month, he said Jung Hae-won has improved a lot.
Jung Hae-won graduated from Hwimung High School and joined the club as the 22nd player in the third round in 2023. He failed to join the main league. Still, he played in 93 games in the Futures League, recording 72 hits from 291 times at bat, seven homers, 45 RBIs and 33 runs batted in, 0.375 with an on-base percentage of 0.338 OPS of 0.718.
Kia plans to nurture Jung Hae-won as a rising star. It is focusing on developing a “heavyweight clichter heater” or a “big gun” that will succeed Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-bum, and one of them is Jung Hae-won. Analysts say that the speed of development of offense and defense in the closing camp was fast.
It seems difficult for Jung Hae-won, who has no record in the first team, to break through the wall of the first team immediately, but considering his potential and sealing, the time to gradually gain experience in the first team is approaching. He is a right-handed clutch heater that can perform both at first and third bases. Analysts say that his defense has developed through the closing camp.
“When I went to the closing training last year, I was very nervous and I didn’t show all of my skills,” Jung said through Kia’s YouTube channel Gyativi after finishing the training. “I was able to do what I had to do one by one as I continued to participate in the Futures League this year. I focused on doing what I could in the closing training camp.”
He is somewhat introverted. “It was an atmosphere where I could concentrate on sports,” said Jung Hae-won. My juniors joined this year, but I didn’t have enough time to answer questions kindly because I wasn’t the type to talk to them first. I haven’t gotten to know them thoroughly yet. Still, I hope they all do well and play in the first division and get close to each other.”
He has grown through finishing training, but he cannot stop. To join the main league, he has to spend quality time during his inactivity. “Whether we go to spring camp for the top or second tier teams, we all have the same training sessions. It is important how we do it. I have planned how we will exercise during off-season. We need to prepare well so that we can develop further,” said Jung Hae-won.