One of the hottest names on the Korean baseball team heading to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September is Masan Yongmago pitcher Jang Hyun-seok. A surprise call-up to one of the amateur quota spots, Jang’s price tag is set to skyrocket if he receives an early military exemption for winning a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Jang is a powerful pitcher with a mid-to-high 150km/h fastball that comes from his 6-foot-2 frame. He is already considered a top-notch pitcher and is expected to pitch competitively for the Asian Games team, which has a strong senior class.
Cho Gye-hyun, chairman of the KBO Power Enhancement Committee, said, “The selection of Jang Hyun-seok is significant because the Asian Games is an amateur competition. It is a decision to give young players dreams and hope for their development. We have been observing Jang Hyun-seok since March, and internally, the committee decided to select him because he received the highest scores in relief, restraint, and game management.”
Ryu Jung-il, head coach of the Asian Games team, said, “We will have to see how Jang Hyun-seok’s body is in the future, but I think he can play a starting role, and I think he can also pitch long innings as a second pitcher. We will utilize him in the tournament.”
Of course, the most hotly debated issue is whether Jang Hyun-seok will participate in the KBO’s rookie designation instead of going to the US major leagues. If Jang Hyun-seok decides to go to the major leagues, it will completely change the game of rookie designation. Jang Hyun-seok and Jang Chung-go left-hander Hwang Joon-seo form a dominant “TOP2” system.
The Hanwha Eagles, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, don’t have much to worry about. It’s a simple matter of taking Jang Hyun-seok if he stays in Korea, and Hwang Jun-seo if he decides to take on the major league challenge.
Conversely, the Doosan Bears, who hold the No. 2 overall pick, could be in deep trouble with their rookie first-rounder, depending on whether Jang makes it to the majors. If Jang stays in Korea, Doosan will likely draft Hwang Jun-seo. Hwang could be a worry-free option for Doosan, as he’s the big lefty starter the team needs.
However, if Jang Hyun-seok leaves for the major leagues and Hanwha chooses Hwang Jun-seo, Doosan has a lot on its plate. After Jang Hyun-seok and Hwang Jun-seo, the field is still not clear.
This makes Doosan even more curious about Jang Hyun-seok’s future in the major leagues. “I wonder if Jang Hyun-seok will go to the major leagues,” 스포츠토토 a Doosan official said recently. Depending on Jang’s choice, the direction of our club is bound to change significantly,” he said.
In Hwang Jun-seo’s case, there are many on-the-field evaluations that he can be expected to perform as well as Yoon Young-chul, who has been in the first-team starting rotation since his first season in a KIA Tigers uniform this season. It’s a perfect fit for Doosan, which urgently needs a homegrown left-handed starter to succeed Jang Won-jun and Yoo Hee-kwan.
“If we can get Hwang Jun-seo, it would be the best option,” said a Doosan official, “but if not, we will consider Kim Taek-yeon (Incheon Go), Cho Dae-hyun (Gangneung Go), and Yuk Sun-yeop (Jangchung Go) in the current atmosphere.”
Jang Hyun-seok will have to decide whether to participate in the KBO rookie draft before joining the Asian Games baseball team. The deadline for submitting applications for the KBO’s rookie draft, which is expected to be in early August, will determine Jang’s path and the direction of Doosan’s rookie draft strategy. Will Doosan be able to bring home the ‘starter’ Doo Jun-seo as they hope?