On the day of the 0-17 loss, Hanwha laughed at the news from Hangzhou, China. With ace Moon Dong-joo (20) and home run king Noh Si-hwan (23) receiving military service benefits for their Asian Games gold medals, Hanwha’s future looked bright. After a long dark period, the stage is set for a new heyday.
On July 7, Hanwha suffered a crushing 0-17 defeat at Suwon KT. Foreign pitcher Felix Peña suffered his worst outing of the season, giving up six runs in 3⅓ innings. Following Peña, the bullpen of Han Seung-ju (2 runs in ⅔ innings), Park Yoon-cheol (6 runs in 1⅓ innings), and Ryu Hee-woon (3 runs in 1⅔ innings) also collapsed, giving up 17 runs on 17 hits.
The bats were also extremely lethargic at the plate, failing to score a single run as they were held to five sporadic hits. The ninth-place Hanwha, which has lost three straight games to fall to 56-76-6, widened its gap to one game over eighth-place Samsung (60-78-1) and is now two games behind 10th-place Kiwoom (57-81-3). There is no relief in sight for Talcott until the end of the season.
Despite suffering their worst defeat of the season, there was some good news for Hanwha after the game. South Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the baseball final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China, to win gold. Hanwha’s squad included pitcher Moon Dong-ju and infielder Noh Si-hwan.
Noh, the second overall pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft, is a right-handed slugger who Hanwha has patiently developed in the first team since his rookie year. He leads the team in home runs, RBIs, and on-base percentage this season. Moon Dong-ju, Hanwha’s first-round national pick last year, is a homegrown ace who has been pampered by the club’s strict innings management and is the top candidate for Rookie of the Year this season. Hanwha’s nurturing and management, which looked to the future even in the midst of painful darkness, led to a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Starting pitcher Moon Dong-ju took the loss against Taiwan in the group stage on April 2, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts in four innings, but in the rematch five days later, he dominated the Chinese Taipei with six innings of three-hit ball, no walks and seven strikeouts. It was a clinching final, and the pressure was on, but he didn’t flinch. He was a big-game pitcher who dominated the game, placing his 160-kilometer fastball right where he wanted it. He had a successful coronation as the new ace of the national team.
The No. 4 hitter was silent in the final, going 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, but he is now 4-for-8 (16-for-7) with six RBIs in six games at the tournament. He drew seven walks to improve his slugging percentage to 6-for-9. He didn’t hit his trademark home run, but he did hit two doubles. He was heavily scrutinized throughout the tournament as the team’s bats slumped, but he remained steadfast and centered, most notably driving in the team’s two runs with a leadoff sacrifice fly and wedge hit in Japan in the Super Round on Day 5.
Nineteen of the 24 players on the Korean National Baseball Team are undeclared for military service, but the gold medal bought them a year and a half of time. Moon Dong-joo and Noh Si-hwan will also be able to continue their careers without having to enlist in the military. While this is a big win for them personally, it’s also a huge boon for Hanwha, which will be able to keep the two players in their prime 20s.
After a long dark period with just one fall baseball season in the last 16 years, Hanwha has come to the end of an arduous rebuilding process. Through the painful process, Moon Dong-ju and Noh Si-hwan have developed into ace and No. 4 hitter, respectively, and have established themselves as pillars of the offense. The team has a bright future with a number of top draft picks, including pitchers Kim Seo-hyun and Hwang Jun-seo, catcher Heo In-seo, and infielder Moon Hyun-bin.스포츠토토
Hanwha, which hopes to become a top-five contender next year, is envisioning a full-fledged major league scenario starting in 2025 when the new ballpark opens. Moon Dong-joo and Roh Si-hwan will be at the center of the batting order. With their military service benefits, Hanwha’s 10-year projections are on track.