SSG was desperate, desperate enough to give up a 24-year-old, six-year old, first-round pick…

SSG Landers, who are challenging to win the Korean Series for the second consecutive year, made a bold choice. They gave up pitcher Kim Jung-woo (24), who has a 1.84 ERA in the Futures League this season, to acquire middle-of-the-order right-hander Kang Jin-sung (30) from the Doosan Bears. SSG gave up a military-grade right-handed pitcher they had developed for six years because they had a solid pool of right-handed prospects and were desperate for a right-handed bat.스포츠토토

SSG general manager Kim Sung-yong told Star News on the 25th, “I can’t help but look at the team composition and prospects. In that sense, there are many good right-handers in our team, such as Shin Heon-min, Lee Roon, and Song Young-jin, so (Kim Jung-woo) has been pushed down in priority. It’s not because he can’t do it. I think this trade could be an opportunity for him in some ways.”

Earlier in the day, SSG and Doosan executed a one-for-one trade for Kim and Kang Jin-sung. SSG said, “We pursued this trade with the goal of strengthening our right outfield depth. With the addition of Kang Jin-sung, who can play corner outfield and first base, we expect him to be highly versatile in both offence and defence.” Doosan also commented on the addition of Kim, saying, “He has a solid physical condition with a height of 183 cm and a weight of 87 kg, and has a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. As a military right-handed pitcher, he is expected to provide strength in the bullpen.”

Kim Jung-woo is a right-handed pitcher who joined SK (now SSG) with the first pick in the 2018 rookie draft after graduating from Sollae-cho, Dongdaemun-joong and Dongdaemun-go. He made one first-team appearance in 2019, but gave up one run in one inning in one game. He eventually joined the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce) in 2020 to deal with his military issues first and returned to the team last year.

It was this year, his second year back, that he showed promise. By the 25th, he had a 2-1 record in 14 games in the Futures League with four saves and a 1.84 ERA. His quality of play was also good, with just five walks (four strikeouts and one hit-by-pitch) in 13⅔ innings in 13 games, excluding a game against the Hanwha Futures team on 15 April.

However, Kim was disappointed to see the SSG rookies make their mark early on this year, with Lee Ro-roon (19-2023 1R) and Song Young-jin (19-2023 2R) establishing themselves as the mainstays of the first team pitching staff with a 3.77 ERA in 12 games and a 3.95 ERA in seven games, respectively. In addition, Shin Heon-min (21-2022 2R) and Kim Do-hyun (20-2022 2R) are also developing well. In the first team, Choi Min-joon (24), Seo Jin-yong (31), and Noh Kyung-eun (39) are singing the resurrection hymn. The SSG right-handed pitching staff is so solid right now that the “12 billion starter duo” Park Jong-hoon (33)-Moon Seung-won (34) seems to be missing.

On the other hand, the poverty of right-handers is quite severe. Outside of Kim Kang-min (41), Choi Jung (36), and Oh Tae-gon (32), there are no reliable right-handers. The expected growth of the right-handed prospects was slow, and whenever Kim and Oh were injured, the team was left without a solution. Ha Jae-hoon (33), who was sidelined for two months with a shoulder injury, was called up to the first team after nine games with the Futures.

That’s when Kang Jin-seong, who hadn’t been given a chance at Doosan, caught their eye, so they made an offer. “From spring training to exhibition games to 40 games in the regular season, I felt that the balance of our batting line-up was too skewed towards left-handed hitters, so I started thinking about hitters who could be strong against left-handed pitchers, and I remembered Kang Jin-sung, who I had been watching since last year,” said manager Kim Sung-yong.

In 2020, a career year for Kang, he hit .388 (80-for-31) with six home runs and an OPS of 1.060 against left-handed pitching, which helped the NC Dinos win their first championship. Unlike Jamsil Baseball Stadium, SSG Landers Field’s hitter-friendly environment was something to look forward to. The trade went smoothly as the needs of the two teams were aligned. SSG offered Kang Jin-sung on the 21st, Doosan chose Kim Jung-woo after a review, and the two teams announced the trade on the 25th.

While it’s unfortunate that Kim didn’t get a chance, for SSG, the trade means that their pitching staff is now strong enough to give up a player who had an ERA in the low 1s in the Futures League. The roster is also diverse, with rookies who have been playing since their first year (Lee Ri-ro, Song Young-jin), mid-level players who have seen the light after a long time (Choi Min-joon, Seo Jin-yong), and a veteran who everyone thought would be difficult (Noh Kyung-eun), indicating a bright future for SSG.

You might also like

Leave a Reply

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