Kim Tae-gun, KIA’s new relief pitcher, a ‘mainstay’ of the baseball world

“I want to be a bridge to fall baseball.”

LG→NC→Samsung→KIA. Kia catcher Kim Tae-gun has changed uniforms four times since his professional debut. After graduating from Busan High School, the Busan native was drafted by Seoul-based LG with the 17th overall pick in the 2008 rookie draft. After the 2012 season, he received a special designation to the rookie team and moved to NC. He quickly established himself as the starting catcher, but when NC acquired the league’s top catcher, Yang Yang-ji, as a free agent in 2019, his spot in the team became smaller, and he was traded to Samsung after the 2021 season. On May 5, he became a member of his fourth professional team in a one-for-one trade between Samsung and KIA.

Kim was a backup catcher for Samsung, but his defense was good enough to earn him a spot on the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC) team. Last year, he played 102 games for Samsung and hit a career-high .298. In addition, he has a lot of experience in fall baseball, and his fighting spirit and bright expression always energize the team. That’s why KIA brought him in.

Kia is off to a good start. Kim was included in the starting lineup as the No. 8 catcher against SSG at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 6. His opponent was Yang Hyun-jong, the “big pitcher,” who is the active leader in wins. There wasn’t enough time for the two to gel, but it didn’t matter. Kim Tae-gun led the senior Yang Hyun-jong like a veteran, combining for five innings of one-run ball. Yang picked up the win and increased his career win total to 164. After the game, Yang said, “(Kim) Tae-gun is a good catcher. He has a lot of experience, so he led us well,” Yang said. Kim also had an Altoran-like performance at the plate. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs, and one run scored, including the game-winning double.

It’s also a good visual match for the team. Kia’s team color is red. Kim Tae-gun also loves red items. He even wore red tights at Samsung, even though the company’s signature color is blue. “I’ve always loved the color red, and yesterday I saw myself in a KIA uniform, and it didn’t feel out of place,” he says, explaining, “The year I gave birth to my first child was the ‘Year of the Red Monkey,’ so I’ve been wearing red ever since.”메이저사이트

If Kim finishes this season healthy, he will be eligible for his second professional free agency. In his first free agency in the 2019 season, Kim struggled in negotiations with his original team, NC, as the transfer market shrank significantly at the time, and stayed with the team for a total of 1.3 billion won over four years. But this time is different. In the recent free agency market, catchers are ‘gold’. This year, seven of the 10 KBO clubs’ starting catchers earned more than 4 billion won in free agency.

Kim Tae-gun will wear the catcher’s mask for the rest of the season at KIA. There’s no real competition on the team. He can further boost his stock by leading KIA, which is in eighth place (32 wins, 1 tie, 38 losses) as of June 6, into fall baseball. “When I first became a free agent, I was misunderstood,” Kim said. When I become a free agent for the second time, I hope there will be good results. “It’s a burden to move in the middle of the season, but I feel a responsibility to do well because the team is in a fierce standings battle,” he said. “If I can overcome the pressure, I think good results will follow. I want to be a bridge for the team to go to fall baseball.”

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