The new year was bright. It is also a time for sports prospects who dream of becoming the ‘second OOO’ to renew their resolve, envisioning the day they will stand on top someday. Star News introduces six future stars who are highly anticipated by each event in turn for the new year. /Sports Bureau
① “Park Tae-hwan is also highly regarded” 16-year-old swimming prodigy Min-gyu Noh dreams of the Olympics
② ‘188cm at age 15’ women’s volleyball Lee Ji-yoon, growing up as a large center
③ ‘National competition MVP in middle school’ Lim Yeon-seo, women’s basketball Expectant guard
④ ‘Korea’s youngest figure skater’ Kim Yoo-jae “Even if Yuna unnie knows my name…”
⑤ Middle 2 has already covered 138km, and even a home run king… ‘Tutting monster’ prospect Kim Ji
-woo “Top class in middle 2 is one of them.”
This is the evaluation of the teacher who watched him closest. A boy with a youthful face who still likes both pitcher and hitter. A big prospect who could lead Korean baseball in the future. This is Kim Ji-woo (15), a student at Gangnam Middle School in Seoul.
Gangnam Middle School coach Kim Jung-gil, who is instructing Kim Ji-woo, said, “(Kim) Ji-woo has all the ball, defense, and state,” and “He plays the role of an ace on our team. He is a player who should lead the team as the main pillar of the school.” Then, he expressed his anticipation, “It is the top class at the national level. I believe that if you take good care of yourself and go up, you will grow beyond your expectations. The most important thing is how well you manage your body and grow.” He visited Gangnam Middle School located in Daebang-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul and met Kim Ji-woo.
◇ “I’ve never hated baseball”
Generally, if you dream of a baseball player, you often start in the third grade of elementary school. However, Kim Ji-woo has been catching a baseball since freshman year.
“I was watching baseball with my father when I was 7 years old. There are fans, and I really enjoyed baseball. It was more fun to do it myself after starting in the neighborhood. As soon as I entered Isu Elementary School, I officially started playing baseball. Watching Pitcher Together Since 6th grade, we have played a lot together as third baseman and pitcher.”
In student baseball, there are many cases where good players stand out as both pitchers and hitters. Kim Ji-woo, who is right-handed, is currently playing as a pitcher and third baseman. He is already 182 cm tall, but his body is still growing. So, among middle school pitchers, he is rated as the highest level when he throws a ball over 130 km per hour.
However, Kim Ji-woo shows restraint in the mid-to-late 130km range, not the early 130km range. He said, “When I went to the competition and measured it with a speed gun, it came up to 138 km.” He is also showing great ability as a hitter here. In the 2022 middle school competition, he hit a total of 11 home runs, and in the 2022 middle school fall king king baseball tournament, he even took the home run king.
If he develops into a ‘Tuta monster’, he can become the ‘second Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels)’ in the future. Kim Ji-woo said, “I still can’t choose which one I want to play more, between a hitter and a pitcher. But if I’m given the opportunity to choose one, I want to hit. The pitcher goes out once every 5 days in the case of a starter, but the hitter goes out every day.” he emphasized. He also has a strong fighting spirit. He added, “If I don’t play well, I tend to get angry with me. In the future, I want to become a player who is good at mind control.” 메이저놀이터
Kim Ji-woo, who grew up under the influence of her father, said, “My father said that he liked MBC Blue Dragon (the predecessor of LG Twins) since he was in middle school. Now he supports the LG Twins. When he was in elementary school, he followed his father to the Jamsil Stadium once or twice a week. My father is athletic enough to play golf and martial arts. However, my father did not recommend baseball to me. I really wanted to play baseball, and my parents readily gave permission. From elementary school until now, I have hated baseball. There was never a single enemy,” he said with strength.
◇ “Ohtani, who is good at both pitching, is respectable.”
Who is his role model? Kim Ji-woo said, “I like senior Ko Woo-seok (25, LG). I also have a similar throwing form to senior Woo-seok Ko. It’s amazing that he consistently does well without it. Including the major leagues, my favorite baseball player is Ohtani. “Of course, I have to work hard, but since I was young, I have been dreaming of going to the major leagues and working hard,” he said.
Kim Ji-woo plays the ace role in the team. He is expected to take charge of the mound as a starting pitcher in important games with the number of pitches limited. He said, “It would be nice if I could throw well, but I might not be able to throw. Still, I try to enjoy the situation as much as possible and overcome it. I will be nervous, but I don’t think I should avoid it.” It’s cool, but a pitcher can get an out count by throwing only one pitch. He knows how to throw a slider and changeup with a breaking ball. It’s best to cook hitters with fast balls. As the grade goes up, I feel that contact with hitters is good. .So I continue to increase the proportion of breaking balls. The most important thing is my own confidence,” he explained.
What do you usually do at home when you’re not playing baseball? Kim Ji-woo said, “Rather than having any other special hobbies, I always play with baseball equipment at home. Sometimes I hold a bat, sometimes I wear a glove and touch a baseball. I watch the KBO League in 2009. I tend to watch the baseball highlight programs as well,” he said with a smile.
He expressed his determination and thanks to his parents. Kim Ji-woo said, “My parents are always waiting for me after the tournament. I want to win the national championship as well. First of all, I want to show a good performance by making my body well so as not to get hurt. I will always try to become a player with good character.”