Kim embraces the ‘bunt’ label, and his mentality and pitching have matured.

Before the Kiwoom Heroes took on the Gocheok Lotte Giants on April 18, head coach Hong Won-ki was a little brighter as he recapped the previous day’s game against the Gwangju KIA Tigers. The result was a 4-8 loss that snapped the team’s losing streak, but Jang Jae-young’s performance on the mound was a big consolation prize.

Jang threw six innings and seven hits, one home run, five walks, four strikeouts, and three runs against the KIA on April 17. Although he didn’t get the win, it was encouraging to see him pitch two quality starts in a row, following his six innings, four hits, one home run, one walk, three strikeouts and three runs against the LG Twins on the 11th.

“I encouraged Jang Jae-young after the LG game on the 11th that he pitched his best game of the season, but he also showed stable pitching the day before against KIA, so it was one of the gains for the whole team,” said manager Hong Won-ki. “The team is losing and it’s tough, but Jang Jae-young is now gradually stabilizing. In the past, he would collapse if he got a walk in the early innings, but now he seems to be focusing more on the batter and the game.”

After falling to the bottom of the standings, the Kiwoom Heroes are already preparing to reorganize their team for the 2024 season. The focus is on giving young, promising prospects a chance to play and gain meaningful experience.

The development of right-handed fireballer Jang Jae-young, who is now in his third year with the organization, is crucial to the future of the team. The team signed Jang in the first round of the 2021 draft with a contract worth 900 million won, recognizing him as an “extraordinary talent,” but this year he has shown more growth than in the previous two years.

Jang Jae-young’s performance so far this season hasn’t been stellar. With a record of 1-3 with a 5.13 ERA in 16 games (12 starts), he is still far from being trusted with a spot in the starting rotation.

However, Hong Won-ki believes that Jang Jae-young is improving. He believes that Jang’s preparation for this season as a starter last winter and his matured mentality are working synergistically.

“It’s not that Jang Jae-young has improved, but it’s good that even when he gives up a walk, he’s more focused on fighting with the batter,” Hong said. “I always emphasize to pitchers that they shouldn’t try to throw balls that batters can’t hit, but to think about how to throw strikes, how to throw them accurately, and how to time them,” he added.

Jang Jae-young was also encouraged by Hong Won-ki. Although he still has a lot of work to do, he is determined to improve for the rest of the season by focusing on ‘innings pitched’, the most important quality of a starting pitcher.

Jang Jae-young said, “I’ve been pitching as a starter, but it’s not my place yet. I’m not satisfied because I’m shaky in the middle,” he said. “I need to work harder to become a consistent pitcher. I’m going to focus on each batter and throw responsibly. I think this is a big opportunity for me,” he said.

He also spoke candidly about his thoughts on strikeouts. Jang struck out 24 batters in 17⅔ innings in 2021, seven batters in 14 innings last year, and 38 batters in 54⅓ innings this season. His strong shoulder, which allows him to easily throw his fastball in the low-to-mid 150s, is a great talent, but he still has a long way to go in terms of control.토토사이트

“Right now, I don’t really care if I give up a few walks. Everyone knows I’m a pitcher with a lot of strikeouts, so I think it’s a battle with myself to reduce it,” he said. “I don’t mind giving up a few strikeouts now, and I’m trying to be aggressive. I have the answers, it’s just a matter of how I execute them on the mound.”

“The thing that’s been following me around right now is the walks, but I think mentally I’ve gotten a lot better because when I first went down to the second team this year, I admitted it to myself and kept preparing for it,” he said. “I think I have the stuff to beat hitters. I think I have the stuff to beat hitters, it’s just a matter of utilizing it well, and I’ve been working a lot on how to match up with hitters.”

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