Ten wins in his rookie year, fall ball, and Rookie of the Year.
The chance to have it all is becoming a reality. This is the story of Yoon Young-chul (19) of the KIA Tigers. After pitching five innings of three-run ball against the SSG Landers in Incheon on Feb. 2, Yoon earned his eighth win of the season and needs two more to reach the 10-win plateau in his debut season. He has six more starts to go, and if he keeps up his current pace, he’ll get there.
Yoon’s win total is also important for his team, KIA. With their recent winning streak, they’ve climbed up the standings and are on track to finish third in the fall baseball season. If Yoon can reach double-digit wins and make it through the fall, his chances of winning the Rookie of the Year will naturally increase.
No pitcher in Tigers franchise history has ever won 10 games, reached the postseason, and won Rookie of the Year in his debut season. Even Sun Dong-yeol, the Tigers’ permanent pitcher, hasn’t done it. In his 1985 debut, Sun went 7-4 with a 1.70 ERA in 25 games and 111 innings with eight saves, but fell short of double-digit wins. Rookie of the Year honors went to Lee Sun-cheol, who batted .369 (112-for-369) with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .799 OPS that year.
Selected in the first round of the 2023 rookie draft, Yoon made his debut in a KIA uniform and was labeled as the “biggest high school left-hander. However, he was overshadowed by Shim Jun-seok, who chose to join the Pittsburgh Pirates of the American Major League Baseball, and right-handed fireballer Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles). After showing promise in spring training, KIA included Yoon in the starting rotation, but there were question marks over his ability to complete the season. Yoon has been working his way through the rotation under the steady care of the KIA bench, and he’s getting closer to making history.
“In the past month, I’ve had a lot of games where I didn’t complete five innings. There were some unsatisfactory games, but yesterday was better than most,” he said, adding, “I still have a lot of things to improve on.”토토사이트
Yoon’s fastball only sits in the low 140s, but he is able to get batters to swing at his pitches, and his strikeout rate isn’t bad either. “I try to make hitters hit my pitches as hard as possible. “I try to make sure that they can’t hit my pitches as much as possible,” he said, “so I try to hit them in the swinging spot.” He added, “(Restraint) becomes a ritual. I feel like I need to raise it. But I don’t want to rush it. I’m only 19, and my coaches are saying, ‘Don’t push yourself too hard now. I still have a lot of baseball left in me, so I’m going to take it one day at a time.”
Even with 10 wins in his first year and a big challenge ahead of him in fall baseball, Yoon’s mindset is unwavering. “I don’t have much ambition for 10 wins. I’m just throwing what I’m given,” he said. “If I try to be greedy, I end up doing worse. I have about six (starts) left, and the most important thing is to stay healthy and pitch consistently.” On fall baseball, he said, “I’m still thinking about it. It’s a stage that any athlete would like to step on at least once, and it’s a big game, so it’s a player’s dream,” he said. “Right now, we’re in the middle of the standings and it’s an important time for the team. I’m going to focus on the season.”