Lotte’s ‘real talent’ that almost got buried in the process…The master and coach are ready to bloom

Baseball player A, who coached the players to the Lotte Giants’ first-team coaching staff in 2019, tilted his head while watching Lotte’s game in the 2022 season. This is because promising player Ko Seung-min, who had tried to strategically foster the team as a second baseman until just three years ago, was being used as a right fielder.스포츠토토

“When Ko was a rookie, he was not bad at defense,” A said. “He looked clumsy because of his height of nearly 190 centimeters, but he had good qualities to grow into an infielder with good batting judgment, start and throwing capabilities,” A said. “After Lotte moved Ko’s position to the outfield, he used Ko only as a first baseman and right fielder in 2023. I didn’t understand him as he didn’t even test as a second baseman.”

“There must also be scouting report data that the club evaluated when selecting new players. The exact internal situation is unknown, but the fact that the club did not use Ko Seung-min as second baseman should be regarded as a mistake by the club,” he said. “Both the players and the club wasted a short period of two years.”

Ko Seung-min graduated from Cheonan Bukil High School in 2019 and wore a Lotte uniform in the second first round of the rookie draft and eighth overall. Yang Sang-moon (current Hanwha Eagles first team pitching coach) who was Lotte’s head coach at the time paid attention to Ko Seung-min’s skills and potential and gave him a chance to play in the first team from May of the 2019 season.

In the 2019 season, Ko Seung-min had a batting average of 0.253 (21 hits in 83 times at bat) and a six-run OPS of 0.657 in 30 games for the first team. Although he had two defensive errors, it was enough to overlook the fact that he is a 19-year-old rookie who is experiencing the professional stage for the first time.

However, Ko Seung-min’s position has changed from second baseman to right fielder in the 2022 season, when he returned from active military service. With Ahn Chi-hong, whom Lotte recruited as an FA ahead of the 2020 season, playing as the Giants’ undisputed second baseman, then Lotte coach Larry Sutton changed Ko’s defensive position.

During the 2022 season, Ko had a batting average of 0.316 (74 hits in 234) with five homers, 30 RBIs and an OPS of 0.834 in 92 games. Although he suffered a fatal bonehead play in right field defense once, it was not that bad.

The issue was in the 2023 season. Former coach Sutton and Lotte Front instructed Ko to play both first base and right field. At a time when Lotte failed to advance to the postseason for the fifth consecutive year, it put its all-out efforts into producing results in the 2023 season. Rather than testing or trusting “second baseman” Ko Seung-min, the team focused on areas that can immediately maximize offense power.

At the time, Lotte Giants put its outfielders saturated. It shifted its defense positions to outfielders Yoon Dong-hee and Kim Min-seok, key prospects who joined the team as infielders. If Cho Se-jin, who is currently serving in the military at the military athletic unit, is included, the team has deployed fielders with batting talent to the outfield, making it difficult to clean up traffic. On the other hand, there were no players in the infield who clearly distinguished themselves in offense and defense.

Ko started 62 games as a first baseman and 30 games as a right fielder in 2023. Although the impact cannot be solely attributed to defense, Ko’s batting performance plummeted to a batting average of 0.224 (57 hits in 255) with two homers and 24 RBIs in 94 games, with an OPS of 0.649.

Consequently, Ko’s revival began when he moved back to second base. During the 2024 season, Ko started in 40 games as second baseman and 13 games as left fielder. Due to lack of outfield resources on his team, he has been in the left field, but he is displaying his identity more clearly as a second baseman. He also has a batting average of 0.316 (68 hits in 215 times at bat), six homers, 43 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.860.

Since taking the helm of Lotte in October last year, Kim has faced issues of second baseman in his plan for the 2024 season. Kim, who was acquired through signing and trade, was named as the main second baseman, and the season opened, but Kim fell short of expectations due to injury and sluggish performance.

Lotte bench coach Kim Kwang-soo, who commanded the KBO League as a master infielder in the 1980s, suggested Kim Tae-hyung to fix Ko Seung-min as a second baseman. Kim Kwang-soo, who was born in 2000, judged that he is young enough to succeed as a second baseman.

Bench coach Kim Kwang-soo had experience coaching infielders who later became national players, including Son Si-heon and Ko Young-min, during his time with the Doosan Bears. I thought Ko Seung-min had enough potential to succeed.

As a result, coach Kim Kwang-soo’s insight laid the groundwork for Lotte to become a team with excellent hitting ability and second baseman. The veteran baseball player’s “Seon Gu-an,” which cannot be explained by the data alone, led to Ko Seung-min’s potential explosion.

Lotte manager Kim Tae-hyung, who is cool-headed in evaluating fielders’ defense capabilities, also believes that Ko Seung-min’s defense on second base has risen to a level where he can be trusted. The “second baseman Ko Seung-min” card that Kim Tae-hyung brought out during the 2024 season has saved both players and the club.

“Ko’s defense on second base is currently in the top class among 10 teams,” coach Kim Tae-hyung said shortly after Ko was removed from the first-tier roster due to injury on April 27. “There are not many players who can defend second base as well as Ko. He is doing better than expected.”

The life of outstanding prospect can be greatly changed by the kind of leader they encounter in their early days as professionals. The “ambiguous” label attached to Ko Seung-min has been prepared to be removed after meeting with a master and a master coach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *