After the LG-Keum trade… “I knew I’d seen it coming.” Six golden picks left to play for
“It’s really similar to Lee Jung-hoo’s appearance after hitting a home run. It was like watching Lee Jung-hoo.” I watched his home run swing carefully and was amazed. Lee Joo-hyeong (22), who was recruited by Kiwoom ahead of the trade deadline 안전놀이터, was the main character. At that time, Lee Joo-hyung led the team to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory by hitting a decisive 3-run home run that broke Lotte in the 8th inning.
Commissioner Kim said with a smile, “After hitting a home run, the picture of the overall batting and follow-up is similar to that of Lee Jung-hoo.” In fact, Lee Joo-hyung’s follow-up on this day had a similar corner to Lee Jung-hoo’s when the uniform number and name were covered or viewed from a distance. Of course, it still takes a lot more time to verify his overall ability compared to Lee Jung-hoo, but the fact that he has such a talent is enough to raise the expectations of Kiwoom fans.
The biggest trade that broke out ahead of this trade deadline was the July 29 deal between LG and Kiwoom. This year, LG, united with one mind to win the championship without fail, recruited Choi Won-tae, who had been performing well this season, to reinforce the native starting lineup, which was regarded as the last problem. Instead, Kiwoom seemed to be promising the future. Kiwoom obtained Lee Joo-hyung, pitcher Kim Dong-gyu, and the 1st round nomination for the 2024 rookie draft. There was no doubt that he had paid in cash and received a bill.
Kiwoom’s situation was rather complicated. Kiwoom, who swallowed regret last year with the first Korean Series championship in the club’s history just around the corner, spent quite a lot of money ahead of this season. He recruited Won Jong-hyun and Lee Hyeong-jong in turn from free agents (FA) and Futures free agents. There was a reaction that was unexpected because it was a team that did not have a big relationship with ‘recruitment’ in the FA market. In the end, it was a calculation to run for the Korean Series championship when Lee Jung-hoo, who announced that he would advance to the major leagues later this season, was present.
However, the overall team fell into a slump at the beginning of the season, and as soon as Lee Jung-hoo started the second half, he left due to an ankle injury and was effectively judged out of the season, and the tone changed. This is because winning the Korean Series, which was aimed at, has become difficult. As soon as the calculations were made, he quickly turned around. He sold Choi Won-tae, who was barely eligible for free agency, and decided to prepare for the ‘post-Lee Jung-hoo’ era.
However, Kiwoom insisted that he had “prepared for the present” regarding the recruitment of Lee Joo-hyung at the time. He was confident that Lee Joo-hyung could still perform well. He thought of him as a replacement for Lee Jung-hoo, who was missing due to an injury. Of course, a prospect with good potential was right. But nothing has been verified. However, as time passed, Lee Joo-hyung filled the void left by Lee Jung-hoo better than I thought. At least in attack.
There was no place in the LG outfield, but Kiwoom is different. As he gets stable playing time, the batting talent that has been hidden in the dugout and the 2nd team is shining. After moving to Kiwoom, Lee Joo-hyung has a batting average of 0.330, 4 home runs, 20 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.890 in 26 games. The adjusted score production (wRC+) tallied by the statistics site ‘Staties’ reached 148.7. Lee Jung-hoo’s figure before injury this year was 144.9.
It’s not that Lee Joo-hyung is a player as good as Lee Jung-hoo, but it is possible to judge that at least Lee Jung-hoo’s offensive void is being filled. Kiwoom’s ‘current theory’ was not a lie.
Lee Joo-hyung has a good swing mechanism. He has good eyes and good impact. Although the empirical aspect is still somewhat lacking, this is a problem that can be solved gradually through trial and error. Even if that trial and error period is a bit long, he is now a 22-year-old player. Besides, he has already solved the military problem. He only needs to watch baseball and run. It is worthy of consolation this season for Kiwoom fans, who in many ways had nothing to go their way.
And Kiwoom still has the nomination rights that he has been diligently collecting. In the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft to be held in September, he has six nominations until the third round. He puts a 3 on his original 3 as a trade. Kiwoom takes 6 out of the top 30 (20%). With a lot of top nominations, Kiwoom is easy to strategize. There is a reason why other teams are closely watching Kiwoom’s progress.
Kim Yong-eui, a member of the’Sporttime Baseball’ committee who served as an LG scout last year and is now well versed in amateur circumstances, said, “When scouts talked last year, they said that next year’s (2024 new draft) pool would be better than this year’s (2023 new draft). I saw that the level of the market was similar, but after the winter and entering the spring, rapidly growing players such as Kim Taek-yeon appeared one after another. Last year, the players to go to the major leagues, Kim Seo-hyun and Yoon Young-chul, were decided exactly like this.”
Commissioner Kim said, “On the contrary, this year, there are players who have grown more when they entered the third year. The players who did well until the second year are maintaining their skills to some extent, and the players who have not shown so far grow as rapidly as the first-round players. “This year’s market is better than last year,” he pointed out, “because the high school market is so rich, there are many good pitchers in the second to fourth years of college, but they are overshadowed.” In particular, the general evaluation is that the pitching market is much richer than last year.
Kiwoom was the runner-up team in the Korean Series last year and has the right to be nominated 9 times overall. If you did not get the nomination right from another team, it was a relatively unfavorable situation for a junior nomination. However, with LG’s total number 8 nomination rights, KIA’s total number 16 nomination rights, and Samsung’s number 24 nomination rights in their hands, the possibility that semi-class players will sweep them all is being raised.
There is also a view that Kiwoom has already roughly completed its draft strategy for this year from 1-2 years ago and started securing the nomination right. It was judged that this year’s class was better than the 2023 class. Of course, it is bad news for Kiwoom that Jang Hyun-seok’s turn is delayed one by one due to his advancement to the major leagues. Even so, the nomination rights for 6 heads until the 3rd round are full.
Not all draft picks lead to success. You have to pick them up well and you have to grow them well. And the results will begin to appear not next year, but three to four years from now. Patience is required. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Kiwoom is steadily preparing for the ‘post Lee Jung-hoo-Choi Won-tae’ era. Moreover, Lee Joo-hyung is already proving it. It’s interesting how this trade will be remembered five years from now.