The 2024 KBO Rookie Draft had several players who made waves regardless of their draft order. One of them is Songwon University left-handed pitcher Jeong Hyun-soo (22), who made a name for himself through JTBC’s baseball entertainment program “Strongest Baseball.
Jeong was selected by the Lotte Giants with the 13th overall pick in the second round of the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on Thursday. In addition to Jeong, infielders Hwang Young-mook (Yeoncheon Miracle) and Ko Young-woo (Sungkyunkwan University) were selected by the Hanwha Eagles (31st in the fourth round) and Kiwoom Heroes (39th in the fourth round), respectively.
The spotlight is also on Jeong Hyun-soo. He is the highest-ranked player in the history of the KBO. In last year’s rookie draft, catcher Yoon Joon-ho and infielder Ryu Hyun-in were selected by the Doosan Bears (49th overall in the 5th round) and KT Wiz (70th overall in the 7th round), respectively.
Jeong had high expectations for a top pick before the draft. He made a name for himself as a top-notch pitcher in college baseball apart from the KBO. He ended up being selected in the second round, but some experts predicted a lower first-round pick.
In 2021, he went 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 12 games, and in 2022, he went 10-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 19 games. His ERA was a bit high, but he struck out 129 batters in 83 1/3 innings. This year, he started 11 games and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. In 42⅔ innings pitched, he struck out 75 batters.
Jeong’s strength is that he’s a left-handed pitcher with a variety of pitches, including a slider, changeup, and curveball, but his biggest weapon is his off-speed curveball that catches hitters off guard. He gets most of his strikeouts with his curveball. His secondary pitches aren’t bad either, with an average of 3.59 strikeouts per nine innings this year.
However, some Lotte fans are wondering if Jung’s stats are inflated due to the broadcast effect. It’s only been a year, so it may be premature to judge, but it’s also true that the rookies from the top baseball teams last year didn’t perform as well.
Jung Hyun-soo’s weaknesses are as obvious as his strengths. He has a small frame and his fastball only reaches the low 140s. With so many high school pitchers with fastballs in the 150km range, this is definitely a weakness. On top of that, Jeong threw 83⅓ innings in 2022, which is unusual for a college player. He threw 567 pitches in 13 days, and controversy has followed him ever since.
Jung Hyun-soo is a college player. As soon as he gets to the pros, he’ll have to prove he’s a force to be reckoned with, and it’s clear why Lotte chose him. The team needs a left-handed bullpen that is lacking. Lotte has a perennial thirst for lefties. Kim Jin-wook and Shim Jae-min, who was acquired from the KT Wiz in May, have been the only lefties on the Lotte mound this season. While Kim has lived up to expectations, Kim’s 5.86 ERA has left a lot to be desired, especially as he continues to struggle with velocity issues.
Jeong Hyun-soo is definitely a player Lotte needs, and the fact that he is from Busan is an attractive factor for Lotte. He attended Daeyeoncho, Busan Middle, and Busan High.토토사이트
He knows that Lotte has high expectations for him. “It’s a new feeling to return to my hometown,” he said in an interview after his selection, adding, “It’s important to work hard, but I want to be a good player.” “I didn’t care about being in the top few, I just wanted to be selected unconditionally,” he said, “so that I could play professionally again.”
It will be interesting to see if Jung Hyun-soo can put all the controversies and concerns behind him and reproduce the skills he showed in ‘Strongest Baseball’ in the professional stage.