The benefits of watching and learning from an exemplary veteran player were exemplified by this year’s “Home Run King” Noh Si Hwan (Hanwha). “Chae Eun-sung came to visit and helped me a lot. She helped me with my weight routine, how to overcome when baseball doesn’t go well, and batting advice. I learned baseball from him,” and thanked Chae Eun-sung for joining the team as a free agent.
After capitalizing on the Chae-Eun-sung effect, Hanwha added two other veteran players this winter. In November, the team signed infielder Ahn Chi-hong to a 4+2-year deal worth up to 7.2 billion won, and in the second round of the draft, the team selected its oldest outfielder, Kim Kang-min, to add another veteran to the outfield. The team is hoping for an immediate boost in power and a veteran effect that younger players can watch and learn from.
Hanwha’s younger players are also looking forward to the addition of the two players. Outfielder Choi In-ho (23) is one of them. “I want to be a starter next year,” he said. I have to seize the opportunity when it comes,” he said, adding, “There are good seniors here without even asking first. I want to continue to grow by asking them, as they have a lot to teach me.”
Although they play different positions,
Ahn Chi-hong’s strength is hitting, and Kim Kang-min can learn about defense from the same outfielders. “I don’t have a personal relationship with Ahn Chi-hong and Kim Kang-min, but they are very good seniors, so it’s a chance to learn from them. 안전놀이터 I’m not good at defense, so it’s nice to be able to learn directly from Kim Kang-min, who is still one of the best defenders in the league. I want to play good defense so that everyone in the ballpark can feel safe when a pitch comes to me,” he said.
Choi, who was drafted by Hanwha in the sixth round (58th overall) of the 2020 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) draft out of Pohang Iron and Steel High School, is a key prospect in Hanwha’s outfield. From his rookie year, he was recognized for his ability to make contact with a smooth swing. He returned to Hanwha in mid-June this year after completing his military service in the Korean Armed Forces and joined the first team in the second half of the season.
In 41 games, he batted 2-for-9 (39-for-131) with two home runs, 11 RBIs, and a .790 OPS. While his numbers aren’t spectacular, he showed his ability to make contact with a nearly three percent walk rate. In particular, he batted leadoff in the final 11 games of October, going 8-for-16 with a .957 OPS in 42 at-bats, raising expectations for next season.
After the season,
He attended a wrap-up camp in Miyazaki, Japan, where he was reunited with SSG and received hitting instruction from Chief Coach Jung Kyung-bae. Choi In-ho, who worked with Jung for two years in 2020 and 2021, said, “I learned from him since I was a rookie. Even when he was on the other team, he watched me bat closely. I learned how to use my lower body so that my center of gravity doesn’t fall backwards when hitting. If my body doesn’t fall backwards, the direction of my batting will improve, and if I use my lower body well, my batting will have more power,” he explained.
Choi, who has been paired with catcher Park Sang-un in Daejeon since December, said, “There are some things that went well this year, but I haven’t shown them in many at-bats. I still have a lot to show. Next year, I want to play more than 100 games and play steadily,” he said, adding, “I’m not a home run hitter. I’m not a home run hitter, so I want to get on base as much as possible and score runs. I also want to improve my team’s ranking and play fall baseball.”