His velocity, which had reached nearly 160 mph, was down and his control was faltering. Kim Seo-hyun (19-Hanwha Eagles), a monster rookie who had been walking a lot of batters, was sent to the Futures (second team) for the second time this season.
Hanwha removed Kim from the first team roster on Aug. 8 and called up left-hander Song Yoon-jun, 31, to replace him.
“The reason why I thought I had to make the decision was because he came down after pitching yesterday and I saw a lot of eyes around him,” Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho told reporters before the team’s game against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. “I could sense that he was struggling a lot because it’s not his usual style, and I thought it was necessary to make an adjustment.”
Kim, who was drafted No. 1 overall by Hanwha out of Seoul High, was highly touted before the season for his fiery fastball. At one point early in the season, he topped out at nearly 160 mph.
As a reliever, Kim was a solid performer out of the bullpen, earning his first career save on May 12. In June, however, she began to falter. In four games and 2⅔ innings, she struck out just three batters but walked nine. His ERA skyrocketed from 3.60 to 5.60 as he gave up five runs. His walks allowed per inning (WHIP) was also high at 1.64.
In particular, in the top of the seventh inning with his team up 3-1, he came in and pitched ⅓ of an inning without a hit, then came down and gave up two runs on two hits with both runners in scoring position. His pitches were shaky, with only one of his eight pitches leaving the strike zone, and the team gave up four runs in the seventh inning.
Earlier, manager Choi Won-ho had said that he would use the shaky Kim Seo-hyun in a pressure-free situation. Although there were no runners on base that day, the pressure was on to protect a two-run lead. “I thought it was a bit wrong to use a player of that caliber as a relief pitcher,” Choi said. “I thought that if I was going to use him in the bullpen, he should be a must-win, and if not, he should be a starter. In the end, I was wrong,” he said.
Despite accompanying the first team to spring training and playing in exhibition games, Kim started the season with the second team. It was a sign of not being in a hurry. She planned to perfect her game management and other deficiencies, and after being called up to the first team on April 19, she played 18 games in seven days.
“It’s just growing pains as a rookie,” Choi said. “I’m going to give him enough time to overcome it. The most important thing is to find confidence. “It’s hard to do anything systematically when you’re playing in the bullpen in the second team,” Choi said. “You have to throw more and more pitches to get a feel for it. That’s why we decided to have a starting class at Futures.”
He wanted her to improve her physical, mental, and technical skills. To Choi, Seo-hyun had a confident personality, but he was also nervous. “I told him, ‘I’m sure you’ll be the best pitcher in Korea in the future, just like (Moon) Dong-ju, and the things you’re doing with the Futures are part of the process of becoming a superstar,'” Choi said.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a starter. However, Choi believes that being used as a chaser could hurt Kim’s ego, as she has always been at the top of her game 먹튀검증.
“When his body gets better and his pitch count increases, we’ll discuss whether to move him up and use him as a starter or keep him in the bullpen,” Choi said. For now, the plan is to give the pitcher of the future plenty of time to regain his confidence.
Naturally, Kim’s return will be slow. He’ll need at least two or three starts in the secondary rotation. It will be at least a month before he returns.