‘BBB nightmare in the bottom of the ninth’ erased, ‘big pitcher’s quiver’ stopped… Growing KIA catcher, Anbang trade worries erased

Kia Tigers catcher Shin Beom-soo, 25, may be small, but he’s making strides.온라인바카라

KIA’s 4-1 victory over the KT Wiz at Gwangju’s Kia Champions Field on April 24 was an ideal blend of old and new. ‘Big Pitcher’ Yang Hyun-jong (35) led the way with six innings of eight hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and one run (0 earned), while returning right fielder Na Seong-beom (34) prevented any more runs with his accurate and quick throw to home plate, reminiscent of his prime.

The younger players also stood out. Kim Do-young (20), the “second Lee Jong-beom,” batted leadoff and went 2-for-4 with two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored. Choi Ji-min (20), who had been shaken up four days earlier by giving up three consecutive singles with runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth inning, stood tall and pitched a scoreless ⅓ inning to earn his third save of the season since May 17 against the Daegu Samsung Lions.

At the center of KIA’s new structure on this day was the unsung contribution of Shin Bum-soo, the Anbang Manim. His steady blocking stopped all the falling balls and supported Yang Hyun-jong’s quality start. In particular, in the eighth inning, when KIA led 3-1, he played a crucial role by catching Jung Jun-young’s grounder in front of the pitcher and calmly stepping on it to get the runner at third base before throwing to first base for the game-winning run. It was impressive to see how accurate and fast he was, without hesitation or haste.

It wasn’t always this way. Shin was drafted with the 78th overall pick in the second round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft after graduating from Gwangju Daesungcho, Gwangju Dongseongjung, and Gwangju Dongseong High. As a catcher, he was praised for his above-average defense in all facets of the game, and offensively, he was recognized for his ability to make contact, hitting .265 with a triple in the Futures League two years in a row.

However, he didn’t get much of a chance with the first team. He made his first-team debut in 2018, but didn’t make much of an impact, and even after being called up to active duty in 2021, he only appeared in two games last year. His 31 games and 88 at-bats this year were his most in a season, and as a result, the rookie often showed signs of inexperience in areas like runner control and blocking.

However, as he gained more first-team experience, his play began to stabilize. It’s no wonder he’s been working so hard even before the game started. “I was trying to be too good at first, whether it was hitting, blocking, or hitting,” Shin said, “but when I thought about what I wanted to do the most, I realized that I wanted to let the pitchers throw to the catcher’s mitt with confidence and not give up as many runs as possible.” From then on, I tried to go back to the basics in everything, and whenever there was a training session, I would go to the field early and go through special drills with KIA first team battery coach Kim Sang-hoon.

In terms of game management, the Future Team is gradually showing its strengths. This is especially evident in his interactions with younger players such as Lee Yi-ri (21) and Choi Ji-min, who take the initiative to lead. He describes himself as a catcher who respects the pitchers’ decisions and makes them feel good about throwing. “I study a lot before a game,” Shin said. I watch videos of hitters and write down everything I can, and then I go into the game with a good understanding. At first, it was difficult to decide when to give a run and when not to, but now I feel confident in my decisions.”

For Choi Ji-min, the game against Hanwha on Tuesday was one that left him with some work to do. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with KIA leading 6-2, Choi had a nightmare of a pitcher’s nightmare: He walked the first batter he faced and then struggled with his pitches, giving up three consecutive singles. “He suddenly lost his balance,” Shin said the next day. We talked a lot after the game. You have to throw your own pitches in that situation, which is easier said than done for young pitchers. Both Jimin and I still have a lot to learn,” he said with a wry smile.

Four days later, in the bottom of the ninth inning against Gwangju KT, the difference in the young battery was evident with runners on first and third base. Unlike Park Byung-ho’s changeup-oriented approach at the plate, Shin Bum-soo asked Choi Ji-min to boldly attack the body and outside with fastballs. Choi Ji-min sprayed his pitches and drew a full count, and it wasn’t until the sixth pitch of the inning that he threw an outside changeup to draw a wild swing, and the KIA young tigers erased the nightmare.

At the plate, Lee’s work with Kia’s first-team hitting coach, Lee Bum-ho, is paying off. It wasn’t that his batting form was bad after the call-up. My bat was hitting the ball more often than not, and I was getting more ground balls and foul balls. However, he continued to hit balls to the right, so he worked with his coach throughout the month to adjust the direction of his balls to the inside of the foul line. As a result, I drew my first arch in the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes game on the 15th and hit my second home run that day.

Even now, there are rumors that Kia is still in the market for a catcher. Knowing Kia’s urgent need for a catcher, the names being thrown around are not lightly. A KBO team official said, “It takes patience and time for a team to develop a regular catcher. Everyone knows that, which is why it is difficult to trade a catcher. The same is true for KIA.”

It’s clear that the catcher position is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, it’s questionable whether it should be reinforced by bleeding more than necessary. There are only a limited number of catchers available for trade, and the trade value is not very high. There are other issues that need to be addressed, such as the lack of foreign starters and domestic pitcher fatigue.

KIA has been trying to develop catchers, but there are many catchers who have not gotten a chance due to the limited position. Shin Beom-soo has only played 91 games and 182 at-bats in his eighth year as a professional. This is not enough to evaluate him as a catcher. It will be interesting to see if Shin, who is showing signs of growth, will be able to erase KIA’s trade worries.

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