“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen.”
That’s what Ryu Jung-il, head coach of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), said of Kim Do-young (20-KIA Tigers).
After graduating from Hanyang University and joining the Samsung Lions in the first round of the 1987 rookie draft, Ryu was labeled a “genius shortstop” and had high expectations. These expectations were validated by his leap to the starting shortstop position in his debut season and his Golden Glove award.
Ryu plans to use Kim Do-young in the center of the batting order for the APBC, which kicks off on April 16.
“Kim Do-young is the second-best hitter in the team after Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha Eagles),” he said. “He was expected to be the ‘second Lee Jong-beom’ when he came to the pros. He has a good throwing ability, so I think he just needs to refine it a little more.”
Kim Do-young also had high expectations ahead of his debut.
He was called a “five-tool player” and “the next Lee Jong-beom” and other fancy words.
However, his debut season was different from Ryu’s.
In 103 games, he batted just 2-for-33 with 53 doubles (in 224 at-bats), three home runs, 19 RBIs, and a .674 OPS. He made history by not only making the opening day roster, but also becoming the first rookie leadoff man in Tigers franchise history, 먹튀검증토토사이트 but he suffered through an extremely poor month of batting and didn’t rebound in May, finishing the rest of the season as a first-team backup.
It was this season that he showed promise. After going down with a fractured left metatarsal in the first two games of the season and spending more than two months rehabbing, he came back and batted .333 (103-for-340) with seven home runs, 47 RBIs, and an OPS of .834 in 84 games. He stabilized his defense at third base, where he was prone to errors, and played shortstop, his primary position in high school, with ease. At the plate, his growth was even more pronounced, as he had his own zone, unlike his debut season, when his bat went out without much aim, and he produced his first 100-hit season as a professional.
With his skills and star power on display, Kim will now test his skills in the APBC.
He’ll be competing against the likes of Japan, who are a step above Korean baseball, and Australia’s formidable Under-24 prospects.
The stage is set to test his potential as a sustainable flag bearer. Although Kim has experience as a youth representative, the adult stage is a different challenge.
“I feel so honored to be competing in the competition. I’m going to showcase myself to the world,” she said, adding, “I keep imagining and dreaming about hitting at key moments. This time, I have a clear goal (to win). I want to grow up and come back,” he said.
KIA hopes that Kim Do-young will grow up to be the successor to Tigers’ permanent starter Lee Jong-beom.
The batting, running, and fielding legend was an icon of Korean baseball beyond KIA.
It will be interesting to see if Kim can recreate his iconic performance in the APBC, as he created many memorable moments in international competition.