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Super Rookies, “A Tough Start”

Posted April. 20, 2005 23:21,   


The prediction that this season will see a wave of great rookies has been completely wrong. The rookies who raised high expectations during the exhibition games have met the tough reality of professional baseball and are facing a huge slump.

“Super Rookie” Kim Myung-jae (18), who signed with Doosan for 600 million won, the highest amount for a rookie, went up as a starter twice (10 innings) during the exhibition games and made a good impression with a 1.80 ERA. However, he has not shown much since the beginning of the regular season.

As a starter in the match against the Lotte Giants on April 16, he allowed six walks, three hits (including a home run), and three runs during five innings. His ERA in two games is 5.06.

Seo Dong-hwan (19), who became the second highest paid rookie when he signed with Doosan for 500 million won, has been in a slump since the exhibition games with a double-digit ERA.

The highest paid (330 million won) hitter among the rookies, Park Byung-ho (19) of the LG Twins has no hits in eight at-bats over five games. Park Byung-ho went down to minor leagues after striking out three times and failing to make any hits in seven at-bats over three games, and he has been bouncing from the majors to the minors ever since.

SK’s Choi Jeong (18), winner of the “Lee Young-min Batting Award,” has not even been able to play yet due to his inconsistent defense. Teammate Jeong Geun-woo (23) barely secured a spot in the starting lineup, but with a batting average of 0.211 he is not making much of an impression.

Hyundai Unicorns’ rookie pitcher Son Seung-lak (23), who signed with the team for 350 million won, is doing relatively well. He has pitched 19 innings in four games and has a 5.21 ERA, but managed one win (two losses) as a starting pitcher.

Baseball experts point out the extreme difference between pro and amateur sports as the reason for the super rookies’ poor performances. Professional baseball differs greatly from amateur baseball in terms of speed, types and angles of curve balls, ball control, and other factors.

There is also the indication that the psychological pressure coming from worrying that making a bad impression on the coaching staff will instantly send them packing to the minor leagues is another factor that prevents the rookies from playing their own game.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com