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Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles) looked very tired when we met at the Rivera Hotel where the Nutriday Ilgoo Award ceremony was held on the 8th. “
I caught a cold the day before, so I’m not feeling well,” he said.
From the 2023 Regular League Rookie of the Year to the Rookie of the Year at all the year-end awards ceremonies, he was tired from the constant schedule.
“I haven’t even thought about my goals for next year yet,” he said.
The year 2023 gave Moon a lot.
He became the first pitcher in the Korean League to throw a ball with an official fastball speed of more than 160 mph (160.1 km/h).
At the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games, he started the final against Chinese Taipei and helped Korea win the gold medal.
Later in the season, he was crowned Rookie of the Year, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It’s the first time a Hanwha player has won the award in 17 years since Ryu Hyun-jin.
Moon made his professional debut last year, but due to injuries, he only pitched 28⅔ innings in the first team, so he was eligible as a rookie until this year.
The KBO selects players who have been in the league for five years or less, have accumulated 30 innings pitched, and have not had more than 60 at-bats as Rookie of the Year candidates.
This season, Moon went 8-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 23 appearances and 118⅔ innings pitched, with 95 strikeouts and a 1.31 WHIP (walks allowed per inning).
Moon said, “I have many regrets, but the most regrettable is that I didn’t get 100 strikeouts.
I will definitely reach 100 next year,” he said.
Because it was his first year full-time, Hanwha limited Moon’s innings pitched for the season (120), and in early September, his season ended prematurely.
He was able to take three weeks off to pitch at the Asian Games with a fresh shoulder.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next season, but I definitely want to pitch the regulation innings (144),” Moon said.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “First of all, there is no innings limit for him next year.”
“Once he completes the regulation innings, we will have to see how the club and his condition are afterward.”
Moon is expected to play a 2-3 starter role for Hanwha next season.
He has no ambitions for an individual title. “
If I’m in the top half of the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA next year, I might be able to challenge for something at the end of the season,” he said.
“I don’t think I can win a title on my own, but with the help of my teammates,” he added.
On the addition of veteran batters like Ahn Chi-hong and Kim Kang-min to the batting lineup during the offseason, he said, “I think I’ll be able to rely on them when I throw from the mound.
I will learn what I can from the seniors, even though the positions are different,” he said.
Moon Dong-joo’s addition is even more welcome, as he had a weak 5-for-4 performance against Ahn Chi-hong.
Dong-ju switched from catcher to pitcher during his freshman year at Gwangju Gwangju High School. “
I wasn’t very good at baseball, so I thought I’d be better as a pitcher than a catcher,” he said.
It turned out to be a huge success.
It also helped that he practiced Pilates during his freshman and sophomore years of high school, which gave him more flexibility. “
He throws the ball beautifully,” Moon says. He throws a hard fastball, but he doesn’t have much of an appetite for strikes. “
He thinks it’s more important to be able to fight with the batter and win. 토토
He is very interested in pitching routines and programs, so he is thinking about going to Arizona in January to visit a clinic center.
His role models are Shohei Ohtani, 29, who recently signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, a living legend from Hanwha. “
I’ve liked Ohtani since I was a kid,” says Moon.
He’s a good person himself,” he said, adding, “If I had the chance, I would definitely buy his jersey.”
When asked about Ryu Hyun-jin’s return to Korea, he said, “I’d like to play baseball with him soon, but I’m sure he has his own dreams.”
Just as Ryu learned his circle changeup from Koo Dae-sung as a rookie, Moon would like to learn his circle changeup from Ryu.
After sweeping the rookie awards, expectations for the future are even higher.
“I want to be a player who is respected by everyone, like Ryu Hyun-jin and Oh Oh-ani,” he said. “
I want to be the kind of baseball player who makes you think, ‘I really want this guy’s jersey,’ and ‘I really want to copy his form,’ just like I want to have Oh Oh-ani’s jersey.’
I also want to work hard at Hanwha like Ryu and then make my debut in the major leagues.”
Moon Dong-ju, who will turn 20 in 23 days, had the last word.
“I’ve loved playing baseball since I was a kid.
Baseball was fun this year, and I think it will be even more fun in 2024.
Having fun means you’ve had a good season, so I’ll do my best next year.”
The next ace of Korean baseball, the “Prince of Daejeon,” is growing up playing baseball in such an exciting and fun way.