The Korean national baseball team took the first step toward ‘generational change’ at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. Even though the national team was evaluated as the weakest team in history, it persevered and won the gold medal. In addition to the trophy of ‘winning the competition for the fourth time in a row’, it was also a meaningful international competition in that each player’s achievement level was high. Above all, the players gained experience in overcoming the pressure of a big game played with national attention.
Players who had the potential to grow further in the league were given wings. NC catcher Kim Hyeong-jun, who played an active role as the national team’s home manager, hit three home runs in four postseason games, and is said to have improved in both offense and defense since the Asian Games.
NC Kim Young-gyu, who was a left-handed bullpen player at the National University, was selected as the series MVP with 1 win, 2 holds, and an ERA of 0.00 in 3 semi-playoff games against SSG. Both players agreed, saying, “I think we can do well in the league thanks to our experience in the Asian Games.”
There is another ripple effect. The young national team’s achievements in the Asian Games also served as a stimulus to many prospects playing in the KBO League. A sense of a not-too-distant goal grew in the hearts of players of the same age who had a strong desire for growth.
Moon Hyun-bin (Hanwha), who became the 7th player in KBO history to have 100 hits as a high school graduate, said, “Seeing young players I played with in the pros going on to the national team, I also want to wear the Taegeuk symbol if I get the chance.” reported.
The national team, which has achieved such great results, will soon take on its second challenge of winning the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC). APBC is a national competition in which professional players playing in the Asian League under the age of 24 or within 3 years of joining the team come together to demonstrate their skills.
Four countries, including Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia, will clash at Tokyo Dome in Japan starting on the 16th. Although there remains a possibility of entry changes depending on the KBO League Korean Series schedule and injury situation, Ryu Joong-il includes many key players from the Hangzhou Asian Games, such as Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha), Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), and Kim Hye-seong (Kiwoom). ‘New faces’ such as Kim Do-young (KIA) and Oh Won-seok (SSG) 짱구카지노are also contributing.
Although it is a friendly competition designed to increase the international experience of young players, it is an opportunity to accumulate valuable experience for the national team, which is undergoing a generational change. In particular, it is possible to make a cool-headed assessment of the current national team’s strength by competing against peers playing in Japanese professional baseball.
Furthermore, it is expected to be a kind of ‘priming’ competition for the national team, which will face higher-level opponents in future international competitions, such as the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.