KIA closer Jeong Hae-young, aiming for the youngest 100SV+ career high

KIA Tigers finishing pitcher Jung Hae-young (22) received a big gift ahead of the start of the first spring camp (Tucson, Arizona, USA). In the 2023 salary negotiations, he signed for 230 million won, up 35.3% from last year (170 million won). He became the highest-paid player among KIA’s non-free agent (FA) contract renewal targets. 

Jung Hae-young took the mound in 55 games in the 2022 season and recorded 32 saves and an average ERA of 3.38, keeping the KIA back door firmly. At the beginning of the season, he became a losing pitcher in two consecutive games and overcame the crisis well, and in mid-August, he took a break due to right shoulder pain. Overcoming sluggishness and injuries, he found his own pace, and led KIA to advance to the postseason (PS) with a stable pitch at the end of the season.

Regarding the entry into the annual salary of 200 million won, Jung Hae-young raised his voice, saying, “Honestly, I was happy. My parents also liked it. I think the annual salary is the expectation for me. I will do well in the 2023 season without getting sick.”  

As much as his responsibility was great, he set his goals high. In an interview with this magazine last month, Jung Hae-young said, “Rather than having a specific record goal, I want to do better than last year. I will make a deciding ball by improving the perfection of the slider and forkball.” 

Jung Hae-young, whom we met after his salary contract was announced, did not hide his record goal. He said, “I want to record 35 saves this season, exceeding the previous personal record (34 in a single season).” 

Ahead of last season (2022), Jung Hae-young said, “I want to become a pitcher whose skills are improved one step at a time. I want to be recognized by pitching coach Seo Jae-eung and make a save to protect senior Yang Hyeon-jong’s victory.” He, who rarely revealed his record goal, showed a different side ahead of this year’s spring camp. 

In the 2021 season, the first time he took over as a closer, Hae-young Jeong set a record (34) for the most saves in a single season for the Tigers club. His career saves were 67. Adding just 33 fills up 100. If he can do it within this year, he can rewrite the current KBO League record of youngest player (23 years, 10 months, 10 days) to achieve 100 saves, set by Lim Chang-yong (retired).

Jung Hae-young also broke 50 saves in the match against the Doosan Bears on June 2 last year, becoming the youngest ever (20 years, 9 months, 9 days). Regarding his achievement of 100 saves, Jung Hae-young also expressed his motivation, saying, “It would be great if we achieved the record. It is important not to get hurt first. I intend to challenge while maintaining my pace.” 

Jung Hae-young did not make it to the final entry for the national team of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which will be held in March. His entry into the Hangzhou Asian Games in September and the Asian Professional Baseball Championship in November, which are relatively low in his starting age, are highly likely.  안전놀이터

Jung Hae-young said, “The reason I can’t go to the WBC is because I’m lacking. All I can think about is that I have to work harder. However, if I’m too conscious of participating in other international competitions such as the Asian Games, I can over-pace. The most important thing is to do well in the 2023 season, It is to contribute to helping the team advance to PS.”

He continued, “Last year (KIA) fell in the wild card match, and I was very disappointed. This year, I have to start PS from a higher position. If I make 35 saves, that will be possible.” 

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