“I hope he grows as fast as (Moon) Dong-ju, but not everyone does.”
Hanwha Eagles manager Choi Won-ho has become increasingly concerned about the struggles of his top prospect, Kim Seo-hyun, 19. Kim made his starting debut against the Changwon NC Dinos on April 17. He struggled with his fastball, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks with one strikeout in two innings. Even with his fastball reaching up to 153 km/h, he was unable to intimidate the NC batters. More than 24 of his 44 pitches weren’t strikes, so the NC batters just had to wait and see. Fastballs, two-seam fastballs, curves, sliders, and everything in between were shaky.
In two starts since returning to the first team in August, Kim has pitched 4⅔ innings with a 13.50 ERA. In that span, Kim has given up 12 hits with 10 walks and two wild pitches, while striking out just three.
Kim was selected by Hanwha with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 KBO Draft out of Seoul High School. With Duksugo Shim Jun-seok (now with the Pittsburgh Pirates) choosing to pursue a major league career in the U.S. ahead of the draft, Seo-hyun Kim naturally inherited the title of the biggest high school star.
Hanwha showed their excitement by signing Kim to a contract worth 500 million won, the same amount as their 2022 first-round pick Moon Dong-joo (20). It was the third-highest rookie contract in Hanwha’s history. The previous highest contract for a Hanwha rookie was 700 million won for first-round pick Yoo Chang-sik in 2010, and the second was 550 million won for Yoo Won-sang in 2006.
Kim got off to a good start in the professional ranks. On April 19, Kim made his debut against the Doosan Bears in Daejeon and pitched a one-hit shutout with two strikeouts and no walks. His fastball had a top velocity of 160.1 kilometers per hour and an average velocity of 159 kilometers per hour, according to Trackman. With a 160-kilometer-per-hour fastball duo in Moon Dong-ju and Kim Seo-hyun, Hanwha naturally became the envy of the rest of the league.
But Kim’s happiness was short-lived. His fastball was in trouble. The coaching staff, including Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho, decided that Kim needed time to regroup in the second team for now, so they gave him long innings as a starter to get his balance back.
While it would be nice if the pitches just clicked, it’s not always easy, especially for young pitchers. “Anyway, we worked with the Futures coaches on balance by increasing the number of pitches. I focused on balancing my pitches, and I can say that I have improved compared to before, but at the higher level, I still need to train a little more. I think I need to see how I throw and see if I need to adapt more in the first team or if I need to go down to the second team and train more.” The results of the day’s pitching were enough for the second team to reorganize. 안전놀이터
“If you have problems with your pitches, you’re actually not ready for the first team,” Choi said. If there’s a big difference between strikes and balls, he’s not ready to pitch in the first team. For a prospect like that, you have to make him throw a lot of pitches, whether in the first or second team, to get his balance.”
He then brought up Moon Dong-ju. In his debut season in 2022