KIA wants a strong third baseman like hitting coach Lee Beom-ho.
KIA infielder Ryu Ji-hyeok (29) has been a talented player who has played all infield positions since his days at Doosan. The one-on-one trade with Hong Kun-hee in 2020 is a win-win as a result. At the time, there were also opinions that Doosan was sacrificing young multiplayer too easily.
However, Ryu Ji-hyeok only played a total of 117 games in 2020 and 2021. Injuries were frequent. The former manager highly evaluated his ability to apply platoon with Hwang Dae-in at first base, but his dream of a full-time starter remained hopeful as he failed to prove his health.
So the 2022 season was a meaningful year for Ryu Ji-hyuk. This is because he has made the leap to the starting third baseman. In the first place, it was classified as a multi-backup. However, super rookie Kim Do-young had difficulty adapting to the first team, and Ryu Ji-hyeok took over the vacant position and took over as the starting third baseman. He posted a batting average of 0.274, 2 homers, 48 RBIs, 55 runs, and an OPS of 0.715 in 127 games.
It is unclear whether Ryu Ji-hyeok will become the owner of the KIA Hot Corner for the second year in a row. Starting from the Arizona spring camp in February, he will face fierce challenges from his juniors. First of all, last year’s infield multi-backup Kim Do-young challenges the full-time starter again. As much as his potential, Kim Do-young is still known as the previous level. As much as he suffered growing pains in his first professional season, if he shows a change this year, there is a good chance that he will push Ryu Ji-hyuk out and take over as the starting third baseman.
In addition, Geopo prospect Byun Woo-hyuk also joins the competition for the starting third baseman. He is a player who gave up fireballer Han Seung-hyeok (Hanwha). He has not shown anything in the first team yet, but he is a player who believed in his potential as a giant gun and boldly recruited him. Inclusion on the Arizona camp roster means giving him a chance to compete in the first team. 안전놀이터
From a long-term perspective, it is ideal for Kim Do-young to be the KIA third base starter. It is difficult to see Ryu Ji-hyeok’s hitting as the league’s top-class, and the defense was not at a very high level of stability. On the other hand, Kim Do-young is a player who is expected to grow as a large-scale infielder. He went through growing pains last year, so it might be a season for him to take off without any second-year jinx.
However, basically, Ryu Ji-hyeok should be given an equal opportunity. Thoroughly considering only the team situation, it is correct that Ryu Ji-hyeok is in charge of the infield all-weather backup, which he has been in charge of since the Doosan days. However, Ryu Ji-hyeok’s performance in the 2022 season should not be underestimated. If Ryu Ji-hyeok is in good condition from the demonstration game and makes a big success, it is right that he is guaranteed a starter. KIA expects synergy from the fierce competition between the three.
KIA has not had a strong third baseman since the days of hitting coach Lee Bum-ho. Coach Lee was a 3rd baseman who represented not only the KIA but also the KBO league. After joining the KIA in 2011, he hit four 20 home runs and one 30 home run. Although we cannot completely erase the shadow of this coach right now, we still have to create a successor comparable to this coach. The hot corner wars begin at Arizona spring camp.