Otani Shohei (29, Los Angeles Angels), who had a dream of pitching and other jobs since his days in Japanese professional baseball, is a major player in the world that gathers the best players in the world. It is presented in the league and is evaluated as having changed the history of modern baseball.
It’s not easy to be the best at any one position, but he has shown league-leading performances in both. Ohtani is expected to have a great weight in the history of baseball in the future in that he completely broke the existing common sense that “it is impossible to combine pitching and hitting in modern baseball. It is better to focus on either side.”
The reason why it is difficult to combine both pitching and hitting is that players’ talents are usually biased to one side, but they have to solve both physical problems and difficult exercise tasks. The muscles used by pitchers and those used by fielders are different, and developing them evenly is a huge challenge in itself. On the one hand, since Ohtani paved the way as a pioneer, it can be expected that there will be many players who challenge both pitching and hitting like Ohtani in the next five years.
In the KBO League, there are players who train as both pitchers and hitters. It is Jang Jae-young (21), Kiwoom’s top-notch prospect. Jang Jae-young, who graduated from Deoksu High School and received Kiwoom’s first nomination in 2021, is such a huge talent that even major league clubs showed great interest. ‘900 million won’, the highest contract ever in the KBO League, proves this. During his team’s spring camp, Jae-young Jang throws the ball as a pitcher and hits the ball as a fielder.
Kiwoom originally planned to develop Jang Jae-young as a pitcher. However, this task is not an easy one amid chronic difficulties. Jang Jae-young played 33 games in the first team for two years and recorded an ERA of 8.53. A fast ball that easily exceeds 150 km/h is attractive. Even in the league, there are few players who throw the ball faster than Jang Jae-young. The problem is that the target keeps missing. Only 35 four balls allowed in 31⅔ innings for the first team. 메이저놀이터
In fact, among the KBO league scouts who highly appreciated Jang Jae-young’s talent, there were quite a few who asserted that “a hitter is better than a pitcher.” It is an opinion that the 900 million won down payment was not just an evaluation of his talent as a pitcher. However, Kiwoom officials hint that “Jang Jae-young has more attachment to the pitcher.” For this reason, Kiwoom officials do not know whether Jang Jae-young’s combined pitching and other jobs will be temporary, continue, pitcher only, or turn to a fielder, and even Jang Jae-young himself may not know.
Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki also predicted Jang Jae-young’s challenge, saying, “It won’t be as easy as it sounds. It’s not easy to prepare for both batting and pitching.” He is training, but success is not guaranteed. However, he expected that there could be a level of atmosphere change. Coach Hong said, “I went through a lot of trial and error over the past two years. Going to the Geelong Korea match this time, I changed my mind a lot and felt that I improved a little bit in terms of skills.” I am doing it,” he said. Not everything has been decided with certainty.
However, there is a view that it may be helpful to hold a bat and hit a ball even if it is not a combination of pitching and hitting. Jaeyoung Jang is not without the power of the ball. He just lacks confidence in his ball. He’s not confident, so he tends to get out of control because he’s trying to corner walk too much.
However, he can rather be an opportunity to gain enlightenment at the plate. If you realize how difficult it can be in the eyes of a batter even with a ball in the early and mid-140 km, it can lead to confidence on the mound. Ultimately, even if the pitcher and other jobs are not combined, if awakening as a pitcher and exploration of potential as a hitter are achieved, it can be a very important turning point in Jang Jae-young’s life, who has many days to play.