Young Kia Tigers catcher Han Jun-soo, 24, is being watched closely to see if he can develop into the next big thing.
Han received his first first-team call-up of the year on June 25. It was his first first-team call-up in four years, having gotten 20 at-bats in 2019 as a second-year pro. He was unable to break through the first-team barrier and played in the second team before completing his military service as an active duty soldier. He joined the Futures team at the end of last year when he was discharged from the military and was given a chance to be a consistent starter.
He batted 3-for-9 for the Futures team. On July 5, he appeared in the Incheon game against SSG Landers and did his part in the offense, leading the team to a 17-3 victory. He wore a mask as the No. 8 starting catcher and worked closely with Yoon Young-cheol. At the plate, he went 3-for-5 with a walk, a double, and a home run. He hit with precision and power.
The 2018 first-round pick made his presence felt. It was a standout performance for KIA, who have been struggling at catcher this year as the position has become a vulnerable one. His throwing and blocking were also stable. His shoulders were strong enough to throw to second base while sitting down. His physique (184 cm, 95 kg) was also perfect. A promising 24-year-old catcher who had completed his military service had emerged.
Coincidentally, it was the same day that Samsung acquired veteran catcher Kim Tae-gun, 34, in a trade. Kim arrived just before the game, traveling from Pohang to Incheon, so he was unable to wear a mask. Instead, he came in as a pinch hitter in the top of the ninth inning and hit a sacrifice fly before playing catcher in the bottom of the ninth. It was a taste of the main lineup. The KIA fans cheered him on.
However, it was a trade that cost Han Jun-soo his chance to be a starter. Perhaps it showed him what the professional world is like. After that, Han Jun-soo stayed on the bench for four consecutive games, cheering on his seniors and juniors. He expected to be given a chance to pinch-hit or play defense late in the game, but it didn’t happen.메이저놀이터
Kim Tae-gun stayed on the bench from the sixth game against Incheon SSG to the three-game series against Suwon KT on July 7-9. This could be explained by the fact that the new catcher needed to receive more pitches to get up to speed. Han Jun-soo hasn’t been able to continue his hot streak, but watching first-team baseball from the dugout is definitely a learning experience.
Clearly, Han Jun-soo needs to be developed into the next starting catcher. Once he’s settled in as the second catcher, he’ll be given a chance to start, though it won’t be often. Kim Tae-gun’s age also makes it difficult for him to play all six games a week. He could also be used in the second half of the game to rest up. It will be interesting to see not only how Kim Tae-gun performs, but also how Han Jun-soo plans to grow.