Hanwha Eagles pitcher Jang Min-jae has drawn attention in the ongoing South Korean baseball pre-season league by keeping hitters at bay even with a slow ball speed of 138 km/h. Jang attributed his good performance to tenacity and grit in an interview.
Jang threw 24 innings with an ERA of 1.50 and three earned runs in mock matches among his team colleagues. In a pre-season game with Kia Tigers on Thursday in Daejeon, he lost just two points during five innings. Overall, he fared well as a starting pitcher regardless of two earned runs in a bases-loaded, no-outs situation during the top of the first inning.
His good playing may be explained by the fact that Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has got trained with Jang for the last five spring seasons in a warm-weather training camp since 2016. Jang received a call from Ryu in late 2015 right after he was discharged from the army. “I felt we were distantly related to each other because he was already a superstar,” Jang said. “I guess he remembered me as an enthusiastic junior who kept trying to learn. He asked me to be his training mate and it all started from there.”
The two pitchers have in common in terms of accurate pitching control on the mound. Jang was inspired by Ryu to focus more on ball control rather than ball speed. Jang’s pitching style is reminiscent of Ryu’s trademark form throwing fastball and curveball.
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org