Posted September. 02, 2005 07:16,
The Samsung baseball team coach, Sun Dong-ryeol, regarded as a Korean national asset as a pitcher, complimented Han Gi-ju, saying that the pitching of the 18-year-old fireballer at Dongseong High school in Gwangju, Korea, was better than his when he was a rookie. Another 18-year-old high school pitcher, Sjiwuchi Dakanobu in Japan, throws fastballs at as fast as 156km/h, the fastest speed gun reading for a left-handed pitcher in Japanese baseball history.
These two prospective pitchers who will take the lead in the professional baseball for Korea and Japan for the next decade will play a match on September 2 at Incheon Moonhak Stadium for the sixth Asian Youth Baseball Championship.
Korea and Japan in Group A will have their first preliminary match at 2:30 p.m. September 4. If both teams advance to the final, they will contend for the victory at 6:30 on September 7.
Han Gi-ju is widely recognized as a pitching phenom and signed a contract with Kia for one billion Korean won, the largest amount ever given a rookie, to join the professional team. The speed of his fastball stands at 152km/h and he can throw outstanding breaking balls such as a slider and a curve ball. He has a remarkable ability to control the game as well, so he is generally expected to win at least 10 games if he starts pitching in professional games right away.
Sjiwuchi was also in the spotlight last summer in Japan. He advanced to top star billing immediately after he achieved two-digit strikeouts in four consecutive games, which is the fourth time someone has done that in Japans Kosien Championships history. His ball speed of 156km/h which he recorded at the regional preliminary games was the fastest among Japanese left-handers. Ahead of the draft scheduled for October 3, as many as eight teams, including Japans most prestigious team, Yomiuri, out of the total 12 teams are showing interest in him.
It remains to be seen whether the two young pitchers will meet as starters or as a middle relief pitchers. Korean teams coach Yoon Yeo-gook said, Im planning to have a left-hander as a starter for a match against Japan because that team has many left-handed batters. In that scenario, Gi-ju will play as a middle relief pitcher. Yet, for a finals match, we would be aiming to seize victory without fail, and it would then be possible for our top pitcher, Gi-ju, to start.