‘KIA duo’ why didn’t they take the AG… “Talent is extraordinary” APBC training wows from day one
It’s a shame they missed the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) due to injury. The Kia Tigers duo of Lee Yi-ri (21) and Kim Do-young (20) wowed their teammates on the first day of training for the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC).
The Korean national team, led by head coach Ryu Jung-il, began training for the APBC on June 6 at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu.
The tournament, which is being held six years after its inaugural edition in 2017 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is open to players aged 24 or younger (born on or after January 1, 1999) or within their third year of playing (born after 2021) from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia, with up to three players aged 29 or younger (born on or after January 1, 1994) as wild cards.
Of the final 26 players in the 13-day training camp, LG’s Jeong Woo-young, Moon Bo-kyung, KT’s Park Young-hyun and the injured Kang Baek-ho were excluded from the first call-up, while NC’s Kim Young-kyu, Kim Hyung-joon and Kim Joo-won, who played nine games in the playoffs, will join the training camp on July 7. Instead, pitchers Cho Byung-hyun (SSG), Lee Byung-heon (Doosan), Kim Tae-kyung (Commerce), catcher Heo In-seo (Commerce), and infielders Han Tae-yang (Commerce), Na Seung-yup (Lotte), and Moon Hyun-bin (Hanwha), who were included in the 20-man reserve roster, joined the camp in Daegu.
As the team warmed up with light defense and batting practice, there were two players who drew admiration from their teammates. On the mound, Lee stood out the most. According to Lee, he threw about 80 percent of his usual pitches that day. But that was enough to draw praise. Catcher Son Seong-bin (Lotte) marveled at Lee’s delivery as he came into the dugout, saying, “The speed and control were all good. I could only admire it while receiving it.”
In the batting cage, Kim Do-young surprised his seniors with his exceptional batting speed. Choi Ji-hoon (SSG), who joined the tournament as a wild card after establishing himself as a national center fielder at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, said, “I feel like this team has a lot of talented players, especially Kim Do-young. I only saw her batting in practice, but I felt that her talent was different. From the way she spun the bat, she was different.”
KIA had four representatives in the squad, the most of any of the 10 clubs, including Jung Hae-young, Lee Yi-ri, Choi Ji-min, and Kim Do-young. Choi Ji-min is making her second appearance at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, while Jung and Kim are making their first senior national team appearances.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the roster announcement was whether Lee Yi-ri would be included. Lee is a left-handed pitching prospect who has posted a 25-22 record with a 3.83 ERA in 76 career games since joining KIA as the first overall pick in the 2021 rookie draft. Since his rookie year, Lee has earned a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team and this is the third time he has earned a Taekwondo flag. However, this could have been his fourth tournament. The decision was made all the more unfortunate for KIA as Lee was named to the final roster for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, but was withdrawn due to a blister on his finger just before the call-up training.
Manager Ryu Jung-il was equally disappointed. Speaking to reporters ahead of the tournament, Ryu brought up Lee first, saying, “He pitched really well (after the national team announcement). It’s unfortunate, but he’s still young. There is the next Asian Games (2026), so I hope he will mature and grow up and become a left-hander representing Korea.”
Lee is one of the ace candidates to start for the team. Along with Kwak Bin and Won Tae-in, he is one of three pitchers who have stepped on the mound at Tokyo Dome and has shown strong international form. At Tokyo 2020, Lee threw five innings of four-hit ball (one home run) with two walks and nine strikeouts against the Dominican Republic and five innings of five-hit ball (one home run) with two walks and nine strikeouts against the United States. Lee’s 18 strikeouts were tied for the most in the tournament with Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes). He pitched against Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) and unleashed a fastball that topped out at 155 kilometers per hour, giving hope to the KBO, which is missing a hard-throwing pitcher.
“After the season, I took a week off and started working out right away, so my body condition is not much different from the regular season,” Lee said. “I’m excited because it’s my first time playing a tournament after the regular season. I think it will be really fun to play with good players from other countries, and I hope to have a good competition with them in the future when I meet them in international competitions.” 아톰카지노 도메인
Along with Kim Hye-sung, Kim is expected to be a table-setter in the top of the order that will shake up opposing infields. Kim, who joined KIA with the first overall pick in the 2022 First-Year Player Draft, was an integral part of the offense this season, batting .303 with seven home runs, 47 RBIs, 72 runs scored, 25 doubles, a .371 on-base percentage, a .453 slugging percentage and an .824 OPS in 84 games despite missing nearly three months with a broken metatarsal.
The five-tool player, who has been called the next Lee Jong-beom since his high school days, was on the radar until the final roster announcement for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. He was rehabbing from an injury when the first roster was announced on June 9, but by the time his replacement was announced on September 22, he was hitting .287 with five home runs, 36 RBIs, 54 runs scored, 19 doubles, and an OPS of 0.806 in 60 games.
Although he was unable to join the team, fans were excited to see what Kim could do at the tournament, as he has performed well at international level in the past at the youth level. At the U-23 Baseball World Cup in 2021, Kim was one of the youngest members of the team, but he still managed to hit .353 (6-for-17) with an OPS of .954 in seven games.
“It’s a great honor to be selected for the national team,” said Kim. In the youth national team, I didn’t have a clear goal, I just wanted to get along with my brothers, but this time I have a clear goal (to win a championship) and I’m going to grow even more through the experience.” “I’m going to hit something big and let the whole world know who I am,” Kim said.