“The ball was so fast, I spun it with my eyes closed…”
Kia’s 2024 first-round pick, Cho Dae-hyun (Gangneung-go), is a right-handed fireballer who has shown rapid improvement this year, hitting 151 km/h. He may not be an immediate force, but with proper development, it won’t take long for him to earn a starting spot in the first team.
Third-round rookie Lee Sang-jun (Gyeonggi) is a case of KIA’s “surprise” pick. He was the No. 1 catcher in his high school this year. Internally, KIA didn’t think that Lee would stay until their third round pick. General manager Shim Jae-hak was very happy with the selection on the draft day.
The two have their own memories. They don’t go back to high school, but to middle school. Although Cho Dae-hyun became a full-time pitcher after transferring to Gangneung High School and was more of a hitter in middle school, he and Lee Sang-joon still remembered their batting duel.
After greeting fans at the KIA Champions Field in Gwangju on Aug. 8, Cho Dae-hyun came to the press room and said, “Sang-jun is a hard hitter. I hit a home run when I was in middle school.” Sang-jun clearly remembered hitting a home run off Cho Dae-hyun’s fastball.
After entering high school, they faced each other three times. “Two strikeouts, one hit,” they said, with Dae-hyun eventually winning the game. Lee vouched for Cho’s growth. “I hit a home run in middle school, so I went in confidently, but the ball got better. I struck out in my first at-bat,” he said.
“Dae-hyun was so fast that I couldn’t see the ball. I closed my eyes and spun. He struck out on a changeup and struck out once on a fastball.” Dae-hyun Cho has his ups and downs and weaknesses, but he is basically fast. “I want to put 155 kilometers on the Champions Field scoreboard,” he said.
They both dream of making their first-team debuts together. “I think I’ll be the last pitcher out when the score is close,” Cho laughed about his first-team debut. “Sang-jun is a hard hitter, so it would be great to play with him in the first team,” he said.
“It would be great to debut with Dae-hyun,” Sang-joon said. Furthermore, if the two of them were to play in the first team as 먹튀검증 veterans, “I would focus on Dae-hyun’s selection. If Dae-hyun doesn’t have a ball to throw, I’ll sign it.”
Both Cho Dae-hyun and Lee Sang-joon have high potential, but breaking through the first-team barrier will not be easy. Coach Kim Jong-kook said, “There is always a chance. It’s not easy to become a professional, and you can’t just look at the outside. You have to sweat and work hard. You have to train and work hard, so you won’t regret it. I hope they can prepare well to be seen in the first team.”