2023 for Kiwoom Heroes rookie Kim Dong-heon (19) was a series of challenges. As a high school graduate rookie catcher, he was an unusual full-time first team member. He filled the void of Lee Ji-young, a distant senior, and was also selected for the first adult national team in his life.
Even so, he himself was stingy with praise. “Isn’t it about B0? An A+ can be given by getting a Golden Glove.”
We met at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 24th, and he lowered his body saying that there is still a long way to go on both offense and defense.
Even before the season, not many expected that a second-rounder catcher who had just gotten out of high school would be used as a fixture in the first team. He was like that himself. He said, “At first, the goal was to be promoted to the first team during the expansion entry,” he said. He also achieved his goal of participating in the away game of his former club faster than expected.”
When the early hits did not go his way, he steadily received the ball and accumulated experience. He played in 88 of the team’s 119 games until the 29th and wore a mask for 450⅓ innings. In terms of defensive innings, he ranks 10th among catchers in the league.
Travel time increased, tension was relieved, and the bat gradually became lighter. His batting average, which was 0.214 the previous April, has risen steadily since. As he overcame the scorching heat, he displayed a pleasant hitting feeling this month with 18 hits (0.340) in 53 at-bats per month.
The existence of ‘hyungs’ also helped here. Kim Dong-heon said, “(Lee) Jung-hoo advised me to manage my stamina in preparation for the heat before getting hurt. Lee Ji-young and Kim Si-ang were also strong seniors just by being at the same time competing for positions.
There was also a hump. The pressure to do better became toxic. After making a mistake, I thought a lot and my body stiffened. A typical example was the confrontation with SSG Landers at the beginning of last month. At that time, after making consecutive blocking mistakes, he suffered a reverse defeat and headed to the Futures League (second team).메이저놀이터
Crisis was an opportunity to look back on oneself. I had doubts about my blocking skills and confided in Kim Dong-woo, the 2nd division battery coach. He also sent training videos to Do-hyeon Park’s first-team battery coach and asked for advice. The answer came back, ‘It’s not the blocking posture, it’s the judgment that matters’.
In September, when the season is nearing its end, Kim Dong-heon’s growth has just begun. Right now, the Hangzhou Asian Games are left. He was dumbfounded when he found out that he had entered the entry, but he was delighted with the Taegeuk mark on the adult stage he had been dreaming of. When asked which pitcher he would like to receive the ball from, the name of Dong-Ju Moon of the Hanwha Eagles popped up at once. He smiled, saying, “It was the best ball I’ve ever seen in the at-bat,” and “I look forward to it because the movement and speed are so good.”
At this point, Kim Dong-heon’s role is a backup. It is the same with the team and even with the Taegeuk mark. But the ambition is much bigger. He said, “It is my dream to be consistently selected in every international competition like seniors Yang Eui-ji and Kang Min-ho,” and said, “I will do well from the first button.”