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The Secret Weapon Of LG’s Catcher In The Peach Clark Era

The LG Twins have won the Korean Series title for the first time in 29 years in the 2023 season. Now, the goal is a dynasty. There is a problem to be solved in order to achieve this. It is strengthening the depth of the catcher. There are main catcher Park Dong-won (33) and backup catcher Heo Do-hwan (39), but they are not only old, and a third catcher is urgently needed.

Just in time, a new secret weapon appeared in LG’s second division. It is Kim Sung-woo (20), who showed off his potential in the Futures League with his excellent defense. I met Kim Sung-woo at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on the 14th and listened to Kim Sung-woo’s baseball story in the 2023 season.

Overcoming the disappointment of the 2022 season, he grows into the main catcher of the second division in the 2023 season

Kim Sung-woo, who wore an LG uniform as the seventh pick in the 2022 Rookie Draft, played only one game in the second division in 2022, his first professional year. Due to injury, he failed to seize the opportunity to display his skills.

With stable defense in the 2023 season, however, Kim has effectively grown into a starting catcher for the second team. In his second year of high school, he played 57 games in the Futures League. Given that he played in one game in the 2022 season, he saw tremendous growth. The secret was to create his own routine.

Kim Sung-woo said, “I tried to keep my routine the same. I woke up a little earlier than others in the morning, went to a sauna, and ate breakfast no matter what. Then, I went to the ballpark after checking my physical condition while doing a program that fits my routine,” adding, “I didn’t get sick much after one season.”

“Kim Sung-woo, who had an encouraging season,” Kim said. “However, his batting performance was different from expectations. He suffered a slump with a batting average of 0.252, one home run, nine RBIs, a slugging percentage of 0.330, and an on-base percentage of 0.342 in the 2023 Futures League. Neither contact nor power demonstrated his strong points. Considering that he had a batting average of 0.375 and an on-base percentage (OPS + on-base percentage) of 0.998 in his junior year at Pai Chai High School, the result was regrettable.

LG Secret Weapon to Shine in the Peach Clock Era with a 63.6% Stopping Stealing Rate in the 2023 Season

On the other hand, Kim displayed remarkable defense capability. Stable blocking gave pitchers a sense of stability. Notably, he displayed unmatched ability to block stolen bases. Since the first half of the season, he has continuously caught other team’s stolen bases and posted a 63.6 percent rate to block stolen bases in the 2023 season. Yang Eui-ji, who ranked first in the rate of blocking stolen bases in the 2023 season’s first division, showed a 48.2 percent rate to block stolen bases. Although Kim is in the Futures League, he exceeded the rate.

The secret to stopping Kim Sung-woo’s stolen base comes from fast pop time (from the time he received the pitch to the time he reached second base). Kim Sung-woo’s pop time is formed in the 1.9-second range. Considering that most KBO League catchers have pop time in the 2 second range, he is simply showing “laser throwing.”

“I had confidence in throwing originally. Defensively, I think my mechanism has been established,” Kim said, expressing strong confidence in blocking stolen bases. “When (pop time) comes out well, the late 1.8s are recorded. On average, I get 1.9.”

Kim Sung-woo has his own lethal move, especially when he blocks stolen bases while facing left-handed hitters. He moves quickly toward the outside of the left-handed batter and the right-handed batter’s box, then moves forward again with momentum and throws the ball. Through this process, he throws a strong throw at the second base.

If you try this, you can increase the exchange time (the time between switching from a port to a throwing motion). However, Kim Sung-woo minimized this with his fast footwork. Thanks to this, he delivers strong and accurate throws to second base with fast pop time.

In response, Kim Sung-woo said, “There is a lot of space outside if you are a left-handed hitter. The idea was to make use of the space a little. I throw it with all my energy and momentum. So I think it’s easier to stop stealing than right-handed hitters when left-handed hitters come in,” he said, introducing his own weapon.

Kim Sung-woo’s ability is very useful in the pitch-clock era, which starts in the 2024 season. It is pitch-clock that pitchers have to pitch within the time limit. This is very disadvantageous for blocking stolen bases. When pitchers check a runner, the most effective pattern they can use is to hold the ball for a long time. However, this pattern cannot be used in the pitch-clock era. The catcher’s throwing ability is bound to become that important.

Kim already experienced a pitch clock at the Champions Park in Icheon, the home of LG’s second tier team in the 2023 season. Despite this, he posted a 63.6 percent blocking rate for stolen bases. “I thought it would be in my favor (when I heard about introducing pitch clock),” Kim said with a smile.

2023 Asian Baseball Championship Slams, Forecasts 2024 Season Performance

Kim Sung-woo has emerged as a “secret weapon” that will strengthen LG’s catcher team in the 2024 season of the first division. Kim Ki-yeon, who just happened to be a backup catcher for the LG first division in the 2023 season, was nominated by the Doosan Bears in the second draft. As Kim Sung-woo, he had a great opportunity to compete with veteran catcher Huh Do-hwan for backup.

Against this backdrop, Kim Sung-woo participated in the 2023 Asian Baseball Championship and showed his development of batting skills, which he lacked. After hitting multiple hits in the opening game against Taiwan, Kim had a batting average of 0.400 (6 hits in 15 times at bat) and an OPS of 0.867 during the game. As his swing with contact in mind came to fruition, he predicted his performance in the 2024 season.

“I liked the ball that the Taiwanese starting pitcher gave me. I thought I would not be able to do it if I aimed for both fastballs and breaking balls. That’s why I simply aimed for fastballs and we worked,” Kim said, revealing the secret of his hard hitting.

“It has not been established what direction I should take to bat (in this season). After finishing training camp and holding this year’s competition, I have established what direction I should take,” he said. “I have been full swing. I thought this could be my strength. However, as the season passed, I changed my mind. As I am not a home run hitter, I have changed my mind to pay more attention to contact. I think the result has come out this time.” 스포츠토토

In order to build the LG dynasty that dreams of winning the title again in the 2024 season, the team should play well in the Peach Clock era. Against this backdrop, Kim Sung-woo, who posted a 63.6 percent stolen base blocking rate in the 2023 season, is increasingly valued. Attention is focusing on whether Kim will be able to play a leading role in the 2024 season as an advance guard signaling the beginning of the LG dynasty.



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