“I’m not usually greedy… but I’ll try ‘Rookie of the Year’.”

Confident. Fully aware of the expectations around him. No pressure. He is looking to grow higher and farther while learning new things and improving his problems. This is the story of KT rookie Won Sang-hyun (20). He is sweating thickly toward his goal of becoming the ‘Rookie King’.

“I filled in the areas I was lacking and learned a lot,” said Won Sang-hyun, who was interviewed after the first spring camp of KT Gijang-gun in Busan ended on the 21st. It was a time when I was able to become stronger,” he said, expressing his impressions of the camp.

Won was selected in the first round (7th overall) of the 2024 KBO Draft. Since his high school days, his fastball and curveball have been described as ‘complete’. In particular, as a sophomore at Busan High School, he started the final game of the 50th Bonghwangdae National High School Baseball Tournament against Gangneung High School and pitched a no-hitter with three hits, three walks, and five strikeouts in 8.1 innings to lead Busan High School to its first Bonghwangdae title in 29 years. He was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Head coach Lee Kang-cheol has high hopes for him. He plans to entrust him with the “fifth starter” role until the “young ace” So Min-joon, who underwent elbow ligament reconstruction surgery, returns, and he recognizes his potential for growth. “I’ve seen him throw, and he has a good delivery,” Lee said. “However, if Choi Min-joon is soft, Sang-hyun (Won) is different. His pitches are rough. He has a temperament like a ‘wild horse,’ but he will develop a sense of stability by refining it well.”

Won is also aware of his own shortcomings. He is determined to make what he has learned completely his own.

He said, “My pitching form and balance are rough and wild, so coach Lee Kang-cheol taught me a lot to smooth it out. I’m going to make what I’ve learned my own,” he said, adding, “I actually feel a lot of pressure and responsibility when I hear about the fifth selection, but I think it’s a great opportunity. But if I’m too focused on the selection, I won’t be able to show my full potential. I’m determined to do my best in any position I’m given the opportunity to play.”

His strength is his ‘strong heart’ that can throw in any situation. He is confident in his pitches. He is confident in his fastball, which tops out at 153 mph, and his curveball. His curve, in particular, has a revolution per minute (RPM) of 3333, the highest in the KBO.

“My main weapon is my curve,” Won said. I checked the data and my curve RPM was 3333, which is overwhelming, so my seniors were impressed. I heard that the average RPM of pitchers who are good at throwing curves is 2800, and even if they are really good, it is within 3000,” he said. “I have an overwhelming curve RPM, so I am confident in my curve, which is difficult for hitters to hit even if they know it.”

After seeing Won’s curve, he said, “I want to learn from him, he is the best.”

In fact, Won Sang-hyun is his role model. He even trained with him in the Philippines before spring training. Looking at the former ‘Rookie of the Year’ made him want to improve this season.

“(So) taught me how he takes care of himself and how to throw smoothly even though his pitching style is completely different from mine,” Won said. “Originally, my goal was to survive in the first team for a long time, but I want to be more greedy. I’m not good at being greedy, but this time, I’m growing my ambition. I’m going to be the ‘rookie king’,” he said encouragingly.


Leave a Reply

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