Ahead of the opening of the 2023 KBO League regular season, the outlook for last year’s 5th place KIA Tigers is not so bright. The main catcher Park Dong-won, 메이저놀이터who obtained FA qualification last winter, transferred to the LG Twins for a total of 6.5 billion won over four years. KIA still remains a weakness as it did not fill the home vacancy by recruiting an outside FA catcher.
Moreover, KIA has a high proportion of veteran beasts. If they get a year older and show the ‘aging curve’, KIA Yasu-jin becomes even weaker. In order for KIA to advance into the postseason for the second year in a row, it is very important whether or not young beasts grow.
The beast with high expectations in this year’s KIA is infielder Kim Do-young, who is in his second year as a pro. Last year, Kim Do-young graduated from Dongseong High School in Gwangju and received the first nomination from the KIA and joined the team with a down payment of 400 million won. KIA made headlines by choosing Kim Do-young instead of giving up the nomination of right-handed fireballer Moon Dong-ju from Jinheung High School. Expectations were raised that Kim Do-young would become the successor to Lee Jong-beom, a legend whose back number 7 had been permanently removed.
Kim Do-young participated in 12 exhibition games and had a batting average of 0.432, 2 homers, 5 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 1.068, and was called a ‘super rookie’ and was mentioned as a strong candidate for the rookie king. In the KIA, Park Chan-ho is the starting shortstop, so Kim Do-young is in charge of the third baseman.
However, Kim Do-young hit the high wall of the pro for the first time as he failed to get on base with a total of 9 hits and 3 strikeouts even after starting in the opening two games. During the month of April, Kim Do-young was extremely sluggish with a batting average of 0.179, 4 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.445 without a home run.
In the demonstration game, opposing pitchers easily challenged Kim Do-young with a fastball, but as the regular season began, the proportion of manned pitchers increased. Kim Do-young could not properly cope with a breaking ball that was qualitatively different from the level he experienced in high school. KIA’s hot corner owner changed from Kim Do-young to Ryu Ji-hyeok. Kim Do-young’s position in the team has changed due to backup factors such as large runners and large defense.