The name of Hanwha pitcher Moon Dong-ju (20) became a hot topic during the Lunar New Year holidays. Choo Shin-soo (41, SSG), who made a bold statement about the generational change of the Korean baseball team at the 5th World Baseball Classic (WBC), regretted that Moon Dong-ju was not selected.
On the 21st (Korean time), Choo Shin-soo appeared on DKNET, a local Korean radio station in Dallas, Texas, USA and said, “If it were me, I would have seen the future. If you looked at the future rather than any performance right away, there should be a lot of newly selected players.” There are a lot of young and talented players. Why can’t those players do it?” he brought out the name of Moon Dong-ju. 안전놀이터
Choo Shin-soo said, “If you take Moon Dong-ju as an example, he says he lacks control right now, but there is no pitcher who throws (a good ball) as much as he does now. The same goes for Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), and it is Korean baseball’s job to create opportunities for these players to go abroad by reflecting on their faces in international competitions. It was a pity,” he said.
Choo Shin-soo expressed regret, but Moon Dong-ju, the person concerned, accepted the exclusion of the WBC team for granted. Before the controversy erupted over Choo Shin-soo’s remarks during the Lunar New Year holidays, Moon Dong-ju said, “It’s not regrettable,” regarding the elimination of the WBC final entry. (Last year) I have no regrets because I didn’t do anything. (He wasn’t even thinking about the national team selection),” he said.
Moon Dong-ju, who debuted last year, recorded 1 win, 3 losses, 2 holds, an average ERA of 5.65 and 36 strikeouts in 13 games (28⅔ innings) in the first team. Although he was absent for a long time after rehabilitating twice due to micro damage to the internal oblique muscle in March and partial rupture of the subscapularis muscle in mid-June, he started the last three games of the season and showed off his potential as a top-class prospect with 20 strikeouts and 5 runs in 15 innings. He showed explosive growth with a fastball of up to 158 km, a curve with a large drop, and even a slider.
KT coach Lee Kang-cheol, the WBC team commander, also highly praised Moon Dong-ju’s pitching at the end of the season. Hanwha coach Carlos Subero also said, “I’m not saying this because I’m Hanwha coach, but Moon Dong-ju is a national team pitcher now.” He was also named on the 50-man list of interest, a WBC preliminary entry personality announced in November of last year, and attention was also paid to whether he would be selected for the final boarding, but it was misfired.
It is important to change generations to prepare for the future, but from the perspective of the national team, which must produce results after a series of failures in recent international competitions, it was necessary to have the best members. There are cases of promising prospects who were unexpectedly selected, such as Kim Jin-wook (Lotte) at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but the weight of the WBC tournament, in which major league players are all out, had to be taken into account.
Although he did not make it to the WBC national team this time, Moon Dong-ju, born in 2003, is now 20 years old. He was born in December, so he just turned 19. There are many opportunities to wear the Taegeuk mark in the future. For Moon Dong-ju, who struggled with an injury last year, February and March is the time to gradually build up while building your body. It is good to gain practical experience in big competitions, but right now, it is much more important for Moon Dong-ju to improve his physical condition step by step without overdoing it.
Moon Dong-ju, who strengthened his body through personal training ahead of his participation in the Arizona Spring Camp in February, said, “The New Year’s goal is only to be healthy. I hope that I am healthy and that the team will not get hurt.” He kept his uniform number 1 even in his second year season, laughing, saying, “(At the joining ceremony), I said I was going to leave forever, so I have to keep using it.”