“I hope that only three of the players we took (in the mock draft) will actually come”
SSG head coach Kim Sung-yong shared his hopes after the team’s mock draft ahead of the 2024 KBO Draft. SSG, last year’s Korean Series champions, had the 10th overall pick. While the higher-ranked players were constantly being talked about, SSG was the ‘picture of the future’.
Kim, who has a strong amateur baseball background, commented at the time that “the level of the draft is a little lower this year than last year,” and shared a small hope: “I think it would be good if only the three players we want come.” Even if SSG wanted to, if only one of the nine teams ahead of them in the order took the player, SSG’s hopes would be dashed. Seol-um was ranked 10th, but the more he did, the more he had to wake up and refine his strategy.
In conclusion, SSG ended the 2024 Rookie Draft relatively satisfied. After the 14-day draft, Kim said, “Did we get at least three players we wanted?” “Yes,” he said. The scouts have been working hard all year,” he said with a laugh. “The first, second, and third rounds all came as we thought they would,” Kim added. Already in the third round, they’ve achieved their goal.
In the first round, SSG picked up Park Ji-hwan from Seadoo, the “biggest name in baseball,” in the second round, Lee Seung-min from Whimungo, the “son of Lee Byung-kyu,” and Park Ki-ho from Cheongju in the third round. There is no doubt that this draft was a pitcher’s draft. In fact, everyone from Hwang Jun-seo at No. 1 to Kim Yoon-ha at No. 9 was a pitcher. SSG’s first pick was at No. 10, and it was as planned.
The SSG front office had discussed with the field and decided to focus more on the bullpen in this draft. With the 10th pick, the strategy was simple: take the best player available. Inwardly, we were hoping to avoid taking Park Ji-hwan, the biggest name in the game, but SSG got their wish as all the teams with the top picks chose pitchers.
“I was hoping that one of the beasts would come to us,” Kim said. I even prayed for it, and Park Ji-hwan came,” he laughed, adding, “Even on the field, coach Kim Won-hyung said he wanted good beasts to come. Lee Seung-min is also a player with really good tools. If he gets a good opportunity, I think he will be recognized as a good player in the future,” he said with satisfaction.
Park Ki-ho, who was selected in the third round, was also closely watched. “His hand comes down more than his sidearm, but when he raises his arm to speed up in the middle, he loses control. “When I went to the national team this time, I saw that he lowered his arm again, and I thought it was okay. His hand height is similar to Yoon Tae-hyun’s, but his style is different.”
After the fourth round, there were a few college players named. Choi Hyun-seok, a pitcher from Busan National University of Science and Technology, was selected in the fourth round, followed by Jung Jun-jae, an infielder from Dongguk University in the fifth round, Jung Hyun-seung, an outfielder from Inha University in the sixth round, and Park Sung-bin, a pitcher from Cyber Korea University in the seventh round. If you include Songwon University pitcher Yoon Sung-bo in the ninth round and Yeoju University catcher Kim Kyu-min in the 10th round, that’s six players from universities alone.
“There’s a good example of Choi Ji-hoon, and we thought there are players who can become power right away,” Kim said, explaining that “the market for pitchers is not that good this year, so we went that way.”
Meanwhile, SSG said after the draft, “Considering the team’s situation, we focused on reinforcing outfielders who can help the team’s power,” explaining the reasoning behind the selections of Park Ji-hwan and Lee Seung-min, “In the middle and lower rounds, we focused on players who can be used as power immediately next season, but can also make the leap to the main roster in the mid- to long-term in the Cheongna Dome era. We focused on two-year college players and early draft picks because we value their physical strength, experience, power, and urgency.”토토사이트
Park is arguably the biggest name in the game this year. He’s got all three outfield positions. He can be used as an infielder, but if he wants to maximize his hitting talent, he can also play the outfield because he has a good shoulder. His ability to make contact is outstanding. Seung-min Lee also has a strong batting average and is expected to develop into a long hitter in the future due to his excellent physical condition. Both players were the “tool guys” of high school baseball this year.
Pitchers are a bit scarce, but it’s inevitable that SSG had limited options due to the fact that the teams with the top spots were already swept. However, there are many pitchers who have been drafted in the last two years, and there are also players who will return from military service, so it is evaluated that the generation change of the beast is prioritized for now.