It was a day to remember.
NC Baseball’s top pitching prospect, Jeon Jae-min (24), recorded his first professional save four years after his debut, and it was special in other ways as well.
Saving a 10-point lead
On the 26th, NC invited Hanwha to its home Changwon NC Park. The game was one-sided. While starting pitcher Eric Peddie shut down Hanwha, the NC bats came out on fire. A six-run inning in the bottom of the second put the game out of reach. They added three more runs in the third and one in the fourth to take a 10-run lead and virtually put the game out of reach.
However, baseball should be played in the ninth inning. NC wanted to minimize bullpen depletion without taxing their league-leading ace Pedicab any further. That’s when NC manager Kang In-hwon pulled out his warrior card. He faced 14 batters from the top of the seventh inning, striking out nine and walking three to close the door on an 11-0 win 안전놀이터.
The “three innings” is the reason why he got the save despite coming in with a 10-run deficit. It was exactly what KBO Baseball Rule 9.19 (c)-(3) states, “pitched at least three innings. It was a “three-inning save” that often happens when a team has a big lead.
Whatever it takes, whatever the assignment.
After collecting his save memorabilia, Jeon said, “I came to the N team (first team) and took the mound with the responsibility of my position, my position. If I go down, I’m going to use up the bullpen, so I’m going to do my job and throw responsibly,” he recalls. It was the kind of warrior-like determination that the name suggests.
“Coach told me to show it when I got my chance with the first team. I tried to show (the fans) how I’ve been preparing in the C team (second team), how I’ve been going through the process,” he said. “My goal is to start, but if I can contribute to the team, I don’t mind any position. I will do my best until the end,” he said.
◆Warrior in the bullpen, the ‘warrior’ in the bullpen
Standing at 194 centimeters, Warrior Min was drafted by the NC in the second round of the 2019 draft with the 17th overall pick. He was called ‘Jeon Jin-woo’ at the time. He was renamed to his current name after being drafted. However, he chose to join the merchant marine early on without making any significant contributions, and even last season after his discharge from the military, he mainly sweated in the second team. He made only one first-team appearance in 2019 and seven last year.
He was called up to the first team on Nov. 24. It was the flip side of the cancellation of starter Shin Min-hyuk. However, he was likely to be utilized in the bullpen. Recently, NC lost its top two relievers Kim Young-gyu and Kim Jin-ho due to a series of injuries. Jeon Jae-min was one of the relief options to prevent the bullpen from being overloaded in the state of emergency.
He pitched his first first-team game of the year on the 25th against Lotte. He pitched a scoreless first inning to erase a 0-9 deficit, and the next day, he took the mound with a 10-0 lead and completed his assignment.
Every athlete dreams of being in a dramatic situation and being the hero. Although it was not a ‘dream moment’, Jeon Jae-min exuded the scent of a ‘warrior’ who did his best to fulfill the task at hand. That’s why his ‘third inning save’ left a lasting impression.