The Kia Tigers have turned to the outside world to solve their offense.
On May 5, KIA agreed to a one-for-one trade that sent infielder Ryu Ji-hyuk to the Samsung Lions in exchange for catcher Kim Tae-gun. The Tigers had hoped to fill the catching void left by Park Dong-won, who became a free agent after last season, by utilizing internal resources, but were unable to do so. Kim Tae-gun is eligible for free agency after this season, but KIA decided to take a chance once again.
On Kim’s first day with the team, backup Han Jun-soo, 24, had the “game of his life.
The KIA has designated Shin Bum-soo, 25, for assignment to the first team while enrolling Kim Tae-gun in the first team. Armed with desperation, Shin performed well in the month of June, but his hitting slump deepened this month. The team opted to take a chance on Han Jun-soo, who was batting 3-for-9 (50-for-162) with two home runs, 22 RBIs, and a .784 OPS in the Futures League (second division). With Kim Tae-gun being rushed up to Incheon from Pohang after the trade was finalized earlier in the day, Han Jun-soo was the starting catcher against the Incheon SSG Landers, a game in which he went 3-for-5 with a solo home run and three RBIs in a 17-3 victory.
Han Jun-soo, who joined the team with the first pick in the 2018 Rookie Draft out of Gwangju Dongseong High School, was probably the biggest catcher in the game. He drew attention for his excellent defense and strong shoulders. However, just over a month into his rookie season in the 2018 Futures League, he suffered a finger injury that landed him on the operating table. Since then, Han has steadily gained experience with the Futures team. While his batting has produced results, he has also been criticized for his lack of long ball power, and feedback suggests that he still has a lot of work to do in defense.메이저놀이터
After returning from active duty, Han Jun-soo began this season as a developmental player. He put aside his pride as a first-round pick who signed a 160 million won contract. He cut 25 kilograms off his body weight and went through the motions. The hard work paid off with a triple-digit batting average for the Futures. After a season of insecurity, KIA chose to give Han a chance, and he made an immediate impact in his first first-team start of the season.
For the time being, Han Jun-soo is likely to play a backup role behind Kim Tae-gun. With impressive results at the plate, the challenge for him will be to prove how much he’s improved on the defensive side of the ball. His future will be determined by how he performs with the first team.