Considering that Doosan (including OB), the original member of professional baseball like Lotte, gave birth to seven rookie kings, and LG (including MBC) and Samsung each produced six rookie kings, it is safe to call it a ‘rookie king famine’.
But this year is different. This is because ‘Super Rookie’ Kim Min-seok (pictured) is emerging as a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. Kim Min-seok said, “As a rookie player, of course I want to win the Rookie of the Year title.”
Kim Min-seok wore a Lotte uniform with the 3rd overall pick in the 메이저사이트1st round of the 2023 draft. Since his high school (Whimungo) days, he has been active at the level of a super high school with a batting average of 0.565 (35 hits in 62 at-bats) and an OPS of 1.566. His ability to run and steal bases using his quick feet is also outstanding. He even liked the pioneering plan to pick out the ball, and was even nicknamed ‘the second Lee Jung-hoo’ in comparison to Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), a senior from the same high school.
For him, Lotte spared no support. Lotte let Kim Min-seok join Geelong Korea, the first overseas professional baseball team in Korea, to learn how to play as a professional player. The Australian League became a driving force for Kim Min-seok to feel the wall of professionalism and work harder. Kim Min-seok said, “At Geelong Korea, I realized the lack of stamina I hadn’t felt in high school. He recalled that it was not easy in the pro league to get the timing to hit the ball with the bat, so he had a lot of trouble in the beginning.”
Kim Min-seok, who returned from Geelong Korea, won a ticket to spring camp with left-handed pitcher Lee Tae-yeon, who was his motive. Lee Tae-yeon returned home early after training in Guam, the United States, the first camp site, but Kim Min-seok showed his potential by participating in the third and final spring camp. Kim Min-seok said, “I was the only rookie player who stayed at the camp until the end, but I didn’t feel the pressure of ‘I have to do well’.” ”he said.
Kim Min-seok was selected as the best player (MVP) in the spring camp batter category. He is unusual for a rookie. Manager Larry Sutton said of Kim Min-seok, “He is an amazing player. He is impressed every time he plays or trains. Even though he is a young player, he shows the attitude of a professional player.”
Kim Min-seok, who gained Sutton’s trust, got an unconventional opportunity, mainly as a top hitter in practice and demonstration games ahead of the season opening. In particular, Kim Min-seok left a deep impression by showing a strong performance against the ‘defending champion’ SSG. The first match against SSG was a practice match held in Okinawa, Japan. In this game, Kim Min-seok, who started as the first batter and center fielder, flew 4 times at bat, recording 2 hits and 1 stolen base. In particular, it was impressive that he walked on base in his first at-bat and laid the foundation for a large number of runs. He also scored his first goal in his first match. Following Noh Jin-hyeok’s double as a table setter, Jeon Jun-woo hit a sacrifice hit and Kim Min-seok succeeded in home touch. Kim Min-seok went to base with an infield hit in the second inning and played a perfect score as a top hitter.
Kim Min-seok’s ‘SSG bullying’ continued even after that. In the exhibition game against SSG held on the 15th, he became a top hitter and hit a double in his first at-bat. As of the 21st, Kim Min-seok played 7 demonstration games and played a big role, recording a batting average of 0.400 (4 hits in 10 at-bats) and an OPS of 1.038. He said, “When I stood at the plate, my condition wasn’t that good. I think he just had a little bit of luck,” he said modestly.
Kim Min-seok’s defensive position has not been confirmed. He played mostly as a shortstop until his high school days, but often played center field in exhibition games. Kim Min-seok said, “I am training defense for all positions in the infield and outfield, and he seems to be more suited to the outfield.” If Kim Min-seok plays as a top hitter-outfielder, it is expected that he will compete with Ahn Kwon-soo, a ‘release veteran’ who played a big role in spring camp and demonstration games. On the same day, Ahn Kwon-soo appeared in 8 demonstration games and recorded a batting average of 0.647 (11 hits in 17 at-bats) and an OPS of 1.186, showing off his best skills. Of course, Kim Min-seok and Ahn Kwon-soo can start at the same time. He can be used as a ‘table setter’ who needs quick feet or can be placed in the 9-1 batting order. In this case, as for the defensive position, Kim Min-seok plays the shortstop and Ahn Kwon-su plays the center fielder.
Kim Min-seok said, “I still have a lot of shortcomings, but I will do my best to be included in the first team entry for the opening game of the regular season. He said, “I ask for your support.”