Shin Min-jae (27-LG) is the same player we knew in the past, but now he’s a multi-hit machine and has major league defense to boot. It’s a spectacular transformation of a perennial pinch-hitter.

Shin Min-jae started the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against KT at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 6, batting ninth and going 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and two runs scored in the team’s thrilling 8-7 victory.

Shin Min-jae made his first start in four days after missing the previous two games against the Jamsil KIA. After warming up with a single to left field in his first at-bat in the third inning, he hit a game-winning RBI single on a technicality with runners on second and third in the fifth inning, trailing 0-2. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Yoon Kyung-yeop showed his trust in Shin Min-jae by ordering a sacrifice bunt to Park Hae-min in the eighth, and Shin rewarded him with a line drive to center field off KT’s William Cuevas to neutralize the infield defense. He then stole second (No. 21) and scored on Moon Sung-joo’s single to left.

In the sixth inning, trailing 4-7, Lee came up with the bases loaded and hit an infield single, his first multi-hit game in eight days since June 28 against SSG in Incheon. Facing a changeup, Shin hit a hard line drive to the third baseman, where Hwang Jae-gyun made a strong catch but gave up a throw to first base. Shin Min-jae came around to score when Moon Sung-joo singled to right field.

The final at-bat was a team effort. With the score tied at 7-7 in the eighth inning, Park calmly laid down a bunt toward third base to help advance the runner from second. It was an invaluable sacrifice that set up Hong Chang-ki’s game-winning double.

Shin Min-jae also made his presence felt on defense, showing off his major league-level judgment. The highlight came in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second and three outs, he caught Kang Hyun-woo’s grounder and threw to third instead of first, tagging out Park Byung-ho, who was heading for third. Shin Min-jae also showed his stability in other situations and threw a no-hitter.안전놀이터

After graduating from Incheon High School and entering the professional ranks as a Doosan Developmental Player in 2015, Shin Min-jae donned an LG uniform through the second round of the 2017 KBO Draft in November. After leaving the military, he realized his dream of making his first-team debut in 2019, but until last year, he was mainly used as a substitute, such as a pinch-hitter and defender. As his role became more and more limited, his first-team performance last year was limited to three hits in 14 games.

Shin Min-jae had been selected as a backup in the lineup under Yeom Kyung-yup, but Seo Geon-chang’s struggles and Kim Min-sung’s multi-position play meant that he often wore the second base glove.

In the end, the position made the man. Along with a more settled infield defense this season, Shin is hitting a career-high .751 OPS with three home runs, five doubles, 21 RBIs and five stolen bases in 63 games. He’s also leading the league in stolen bases and is 4-for-5 in his last 10 games.

Shin’s major league-caliber defense also attracted the attention of Oh Ji-hwan, one of the best shortstop defenders in the KBO. After the game, Oh said, “Shin Min-jae is definitely bold. There’s no hesitation,” he said, adding, “Even in the sixth inning defense, he probably thought about throwing to third base beforehand. That’s why he made that play. I told him in that moment that it was great. I gave him a thumbs up.”

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