Kim Seo-hyun, who joined Hanwha as the No. 1 rookie draft pick in 2023, has drawn keen attention as a Super Rookie. On April 19, his debut match against Doosan Bears in Daejeon, he made a successful debut by striking out two and allowing no run in one inning of relief. He made a strong impression by throwing a 160.1 km fastball, the highest among trackmen. At the match against Munhak SSG on May 12, he garnered his first save since his debut, and is one step closer to his dream of becoming a closer.
The professional stage, however, was not that easy. Kim Seo-hyun, who had been struggling since mid-May due to his poor ball control, moved to the second division on June 8 for adjustment. He returned to the first division on August 10 after playing in the Futures League, but was informed of his return to the second division after two games. He was substituted early in two innings, three hits, four walks, one strikeout and three runs in the match against NC in Changwon on August 17, his debut in the first division, before finishing the season with the Futures team.
In his first year since debuting in the main league, he had 26 strikeouts in 20 games (first starter) with one save and an earned run average of 7.25. In 22 ⅓ innings, he had 23 walks and seven balls that hit his body, which did not work. Kim Seo-hyun, who participated in the Miyazaki Education League in October, participated in the final training camp in Japan for two months. 안전놀이터
“Kim Seo-hyun’s ball control has improved. It is not easy to hit a ball when a strike comes in,” Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said. “We need to unleash our potential (with Hwang Joon-seo).” He has experienced various things both as a starter and reliever this year, and plans to start with the bullpen pitcher to gain experience next year.
Park Seung-min, Hanwha’s pitching coach, also said of Kim Seo-hyun, “There are definitely times when he showed good performance this season. He is seeking change to find a good performance at that time. He himself recognizes that unless he changes, it is not easy to become a pro. He is in the process of changing after thinking about how his good performance came out in the beginning.”
“Players themselves watch videos to copy how they look when they feel good,” coach Park said. “They don’t talk about arm height. Just follow what comes out unconsciously. The problem was that the circle gets too big (in arm movement) when throwing the ball, not the arm height. I try to make a circle that fits my timing appropriately.”
“I saw a lot of form when I was happy with Coach Park Seung-min. He said that he had a great arm swing when he took the mound for the first time. I am changing my form and making arm swing and balance to throw like I did then,” Kim said. “My arm didn’t fall out too much when I threw in the first division. As my arm fell to the side more and more, my control got worse. I am trying to fix it so that my arm doesn’t fall out.”
Kim had continued to grow steadily until high school days, but he put a brake on his career for the first time in the pro league. “It was almost bad except for my debut match. I wanted to be of help to my team, but nothing in particular helped me. It was my first time as a starter at the Futures League, but it was hard to increase the number of pitches and prepare for the next game,” he said. “At first, I had something I did in high school, so I thought I could adjust well to the pro league. But after I realized it, it was not easy. I couldn’t move as I wanted, and I suddenly saw my weight change.” As my weight increased from 88 kilograms in high school to 103 to 104 kilograms during the season, my body balance was also damaged. During the finishing camp, I reduced my weight to 96 kilograms, maintaining my best condition.
“When I was in high school, I had time to prepare and adjust for a few days due to low number of games, but professional players have to play games every day. I heard a lot that I had to fix my form, but I didn’t fix it when I was in high school. I felt a strong barrier for the first time while playing baseball. There are times when I can’t do well. That’s how I learned a lot. The most important thing for a professional player is to maintain physical strength and condition. I felt that each player must have a routine that suits them. I always try to maintain the same sleeping pattern. I sleep a lot, so I try to sleep for about eight hours,” he said.
Kim, who has not pitched more than 30 innings this year, has maintained his eligibility for the Rookie of the Year award next year. Just like Moon Dong-ju, who won the Rookie of the Year award this year after pitching 28 ⅔s in the first year of 2022, Kim deserves high expectations for his second year of the season. However, as he has been through challenges this year, he has started to look at himself objectively. He does not rush to prepare for next year.
“I feel pressured to do better if I want to be king of the new world. If it was in the beginning, I would have been fearless, but I learned that I need to be quiet,” said Kim with a smile. “I used to film by myself, looking in the mirror and saying, ‘You are not yet.’ Rather than looking into the mirror, I want to show you my changed self first. I think these experiences will definitely help me next year.” I am curious about Kim Seo-hyun’s second year in which he is sharpening his sword amid cool-minded self-objectification.