KT Wiz’s Park Young-hyun (20) has been a dominant performer at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Lee Kang-cheol, the head coach of the KT Wiz, cheered on Young-hyun Park, who is playing for the South Korean national team, during a pregame interview with the KIA Tigers of the Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League 2023 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on May 5.
Park, who went 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 67 games (73⅓ innings), 32 holds, and four saves this season, was selected to represent South Korea at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and headed to Hangzhou. While Korea has been struggling in the tournament, including a 0-4 loss to Chinese Taipei on the 2nd, Park has been pitching exceptionally well with one save and a 0.00 ERA in three games (4⅓ innings).
Most notably, he took over the closer’s role for Ko Woo-seok (LG) against Japan in the Super Round on May 5. In the top of the eighth inning with Korea leading 1-0, Park gave up a double to Hiroki Nakagawa, but got Kazuya Shimokawa to fly out to center field to end the threat. In the ninth inning, when Korea scored a run to take a 2-0 lead, Shoji Kitamura reached on a fielder’s choice and was hit by Tatsuhiko Sato to put runners on first and second with no outs, but Masashi Maruyama induced a grounder to shortstop to get the runner at second and Kohei Sasagawa to fly out to center field for a scoreless second inning.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol, who has been watching Park’s performance from Korea, said, “He never threw 156 in our team, but when he went to the national team, his velocity was much faster. They say the speed gun isn’t accurate, but it’s good,” he laughed.
A first-round pick in the 2022 Rookie Draft, Park had a solid rookie year, going 1-0 with a 3.66 ERA in 52 games (51⅔ innings). Recognizing his potential, Lee used him in the semi-playoffs against Kiwoom that year, and he impressed with a 3.86 ERA in four games (4⅔ innings) with one save and one hold. He was especially impressive in the second game of the semifinals, pitching two innings of one-hit ball with one strikeout to earn the save.
“Park Young-hyun doesn’t get nervous in big games,” said Lee Kang-cheol, who was impressed. “Last year, he had a two-inning save in Gocheok. If you look at this year alone, last year he had one hold, but this year he already had more than 30,” he said, emphasizing Young-hyun’s steep growth.캡틴토토
“I’m not bragging, but I think I have a good eye,” Lee laughed, “I was worried at first because he’s a little short (183 centimeters), but I told him it would work out. Even today, in a crisis situation, the ball was no joke,” he said, lavishing praise on Park Young-hyun.