Is there only 1st choice Hwang Jun-seo? Even the 194cm left-hander was included as planned… Will Hanwha resolve the mound imbalance?

 Hanwha has continued to collect right-handed prospects in the rookie draft in recent years. The mound depth was increased by consistently selecting right-handed fastball pitchers in the upper rounds, such as Nam Ji-min and Han Seung-ju in 2020, Moon Dong-ju and Park Jun-young in 2022,메이저놀이터 and Kim Seo-hyun in 2023. 

However, there was a relative lack of left-handers. Kim Ki-joong was selected as the second overall pick in the second first round of 2021, but has not yet fully established himself in the first team. There are only two left-handers in the first team this season: Kim Beom-soo and Jung Woo-ram. In a situation where Kim Beom-su is the only player in his 20s, the task is to resolve the imbalance between the left and right sides of the mound. 

This is why Hanwha used all of its top picks in the first and second rounds to nominate a left-handed pitcher in the 2024 rookie draft held on the 14th. After naming Jangchung High School left-hander Hwang Jun-seo as the first overall pick in the first round, they again selected Jangchung High School left-hander Jo Dong-wook as the 11th overall pick in the second round. Among left-handed pitchers excluding right-handed pitchers, he has the top two draftees. 

Hwang Jun-seo, the first overall pick, immediately raises expectations with his sense of power. Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho said, “A good player has come in. It was great to see them throwing in the spring. There is restraint, but there is also restraint. “He has good pitching form,” he said. “There is merit when a left-handed pitcher who throws in the mid-140 km/h range can control his pitch. “I think his ability to throw strikes is good,” he said. 

Hwang Jun-seo, who threw a fastball of up to 150 km in the E-Mart Cup last April, however, as the season progressed, his speed decreased along with his weight. He has a thin build compared to his height of 184cm and is not yet fully developed. Coach Choi Won-ho said, “Scouts say his speed has dropped a bit in the middle of the season, but if there are no major problems with his body, it’s okay. This is an area that may temporarily drop slightly. When you become a professional, you receive systematic training on a diet of about 6,000 calories a day. He was not worried, saying, “His body will naturally get better soon.” 

Left-hander Cho Dong-wook, selected in the second round, is also a promising player that the Hanwha scout team has been continuously observing and planning to nominate since early this year. He is a rarity because he is 194cm tall and has good movement at the tip of the ball with a three-quarter height. He recorded 2 wins, 2 losses, and an ERA of 2.77 in 17 high school games this year. He pitched 38⅔ innings, striking out 40, and allowing 19. 

Coach Choi said, “When briefing the scout team before the nomination, they said that Jo Dong-wook might go out at the end of the first round. He said, “If I don’t go, I will unconditionally nominate him in the second round, and that is the best.” He added, “After the season, I plan to take Jo Dong-wook along with Hwang Jun-seo to the finishing camp in Miyazaki, Japan to see him throw the ball in person. “Only then will we be able to know how we stack up against existing players and determine the roster for next year’s spring camp,” he said. 

Next season’s position leaves many possibilities open. In the case of Hwang Jun-seo, he is classified as a typical starting style, but he does not plan to confine himself to just one type. Coach Choi said, “If he does well, he will be used in the first team. If he doesn’t start, he’ll have to think about it. He could be used as relief if a spot in the first-team bullpen becomes available. It is not a good idea to keep him in the Futures until a starting position in the first team becomes available. In particular, first-round players have a hard time staying in Futures for a long time. If you only use him as a starter, the door to the first team may be closed. It is also okay to gain experience in the first team through the bullpen. “Then, if there is a hole in the selection, he can become a starter,” he said, adding that he would not limit his position from the start.

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