“I didn’t bloom properly in the team called KIA, but I’m a similar player with a lot of potential.”
Hong Kun-hee (31, Doosan Bears) cheered for his friend Han Seung-hyuk (30, Hanwha Eagles) on a new start. After last season, Han Seung-hyuk was traded to Hanwha along with pitcher Ji-soo Jang. KIA was a condition for obtaining Byun Woo-hyeok, a promising military veteran. Hanwha was satisfied with acquiring Han Seung-hyeok, who can be useful both in the starter and in the bullpen.
The two pitchers were motivated to join the KIA Tigers in 2011. Hong Kun-hee was nominated in the 9th place in the second round, and Han Seung-hyun was nominated in the 8th place in the first round. The two pitching prospects who competed for the top nomination that year attracted attention as a timber to lead the future of KIA.
Contrary to the wind, the two pitchers did not fully bloom at KIA. Hong Geon-hee was evaluated as a player who was unstable in pitching and soft-hearted in close matches, and was unable to settle down in a starting position or bullpen and gradually withered.
The same goes for Han Seung-hyeok. He was expected by KIA fans every year as a pitcher who threw a fastball that reached 158 km/h, but his ball was always a problem. When changes were made to catch the first ball, the strength of the fastball decreased repeatedly, and both KIA and Han Seung-hyuk spent more than 10 years without finding a sharp number.
In the end, Hong Kun-hee left the team first. During the 2020 season, Doosan traded infielder Ryu Ji-hyuk for Hong Gun-hee. Hong Kun-hee is a pitcher who allows a lot of fly balls, but at the time, there was a belief that his fastball would work well enough in the large Jamsil Baseball Stadium.
Hong Kun-hee wore a Doosan uniform and attached wings. He recorded 173 games, 11 wins, 34 holds, 22 saves, 193 innings, and an earned run average of 3.59 in all three seasons until last year. Hong Kun-hee has been heavily used to the extent of playing in the most games among Doosan pitchers over the past three seasons, and last year he even took the position of finishing pitcher. He had a good relationship with his teammates to the extent that he was in charge of the team and the pitching manager from the second year of the transfer. His annual salary starts at 53 million won in 2020 and is about to break through 300 million won in the new year. 안전놀이터
Hong Kun-hee, who wrote the trade success story three years early, sincerely supported the success of his motive for joining. He said, “(Han) Seung-hyuk is a friend who has been playing baseball since he was young because he was a motive for joining the team. I think I will get good results if I go to a new team and put down the failures and adjust to Hanwha.
He emphasized that the top priority is to quickly melt into the new team. Hong Gun-hee said, “The new environment will be helpful. Each team has a different atmosphere and culture, so adapting quickly is the top priority. You can create your own baseball environment. So I hope you adapt quickly. In Hanwha, don’t think too much about the bad things, but if you do well by making use of your strengths, there will be good results.”
Han Seung-hyuk recorded a total of 228 games, 18 wins, 2 saves, 19 holds, 411⅓ innings, and an average ERA of 5.84 from 2012 to last year at the KIA. It is a report card that is not suitable for a fastball pitcher from the first round. Will Han Seung-hyeok be able to write another story of successful trade by quickly integrating into Hanwha as advised by Hong Kun-hee?
Immediately after the trade, Han Seung-hyuk said, “I was in the same team for 11 years, but when I was young, I never thought of being traded. I feel that time has passed since I heard the story of the trade. I think I will go. But personally, it is a new start and a challenge. I hope you will support me.”