There are no Woo-jin An (Kiwoom) Dong-ju Moon (Hanwha), but four young pitchers born in the 2000s have already been selected for the Korean WBC (World Baseball Classic) national team. An Woo-jin and Moon Dong-ju are not the only future. These are also the future of Korean baseball, which can answer the question, “How long will Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong last?”
There is an argument that the WBC should have seen the future, but in fact, head coach Lee Kang-cheol, former technical director Yeom Gyeong-yeop, 스포츠토토 and current technical committee chairman Cho Beom-hyun have already decided on the final list of 30 players with that in mind. While ‘still’ leaning on Kim Gwang-hyun (SSG) and Yang Hyeon-jong (KIA), on the other hand, they made a bold decision to select four pitchers born in the 2000s.
The average age of the pitchers in this tournament (calculated as the same age if born in the same year) is 27.1 years old, not much different from the past. Instead, the proportion of young players is higher than in any other tournament since the 2017 WBC. Among the 15 pitchers, the ‘middle age’ is Go Woo-seok, who was born in 1998 and is 25 years old. Seven pitchers younger than him boarded Lee Kang-cheol.
If the oldest, 35-year-old Kim Gwang-hyeon and Yang Hyeon-jong, who were born in 1988, were removed from the national team and replaced by Ahn Woo-jin (24) and Moon Dong-ju (20), the average age of pitchers would drop to 25.3. Instead, a ‘leader’ with rich experience in international competitions will be lost.
It is a fact acknowledged by many that Ahn Woo-jin is the league’s best pitcher and Moon Dong-ju is the league’s best pitching prospect. However, the selection process for the national team is not that simple. This WBC technical committee was in a position where it was difficult to give up Ahn Woo-jin easily, but to include him in the national team. Instead, he bet the future of Korean baseball on four pitchers born in 2000.
Looking at the faces of these pitchers born in the 2000s, it would be difficult to say that the national team did not think about the future. They are young and all of them are players who have made certain achievements in the KBO League. In addition, the left and right distribution was exquisitely done with two left-handed pitchers and two right-handed pitchers.
Won Tae-in steadily took a growth course, starting more than 25 games for four consecutive years. He posted an earned run average in the 10-3 range as he filled regulation innings for the second year in a row. Kim Yun-sik was the best pitcher in the KBO League in the second half of the season. Since August 20, his earned run average has been just 0.85. During this period, he is the only player with an earned run average in the 0-point range.
Small Jun has successfully overcome his second year jinx. Last year, with an average ERA of 3.05 in 27 games, he ranked third among Korean pitchers, following Ahn Woo-jin (2.11) and Kim Gwang-hyun (2.13). Eui-ri Lee was 2nd overall with 9.41 strikeouts per 9 innings, following Woo-jin An (10.29).