Right-handed pitcher Jin Woo-young (22), formerly of the Kansas City Royals in the U.S. minor leagues, has set his sights on the KBO.
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) held its 2024 Rookie Draft tryouts on Aug. 28 at the Gonjiam Team Up Campus in Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do. A total of five players participated in the tryouts, which were open to overseas amateur and professional players as well as high school and college dropouts.
Jin Woo-young, a graduate of Global Advancement School, is an overseas player who joined Kansas City in August 2018. He signed a contract for a total of $150,000 (approximately KRW198 million) and began his American career in the minor leagues.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Jin. From the beginning of his career, he had a tough time, with the minor leagues canceling themselves due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the pandemic, he showed promise, making it all the way to Single-A. However, after losing out on a roster spot, Jin was released in September 2021 and returned to South Korea. He immediately enlisted in the army, where he served as a full-time reserve, preparing himself for the KBO.
After completing his military service, Jin joined independent club Paju Challengers in May. From there, he continued to train and knocked on the door of the KBO through the 2024 Rookie Draft.
It rained all morning at the Team Up Campus field where the tryouts were held. However, the players, including Jin Woo-young, braved the elements to showcase their skills. After the tryout, Jin said, “The conditions were not perfect, including the weather, but I did my best under the circumstances. I think I finished well without much regret,” he smiled.
As an American student-athlete, he attracted a lot of attention at the tryout. “I haven’t received this much attention since I was in high school, so I’m rather grateful for the attention I received while preparing for the tryouts after returning to Korea,” said Jin. “That made me realize that I had to do better. I think it gave me the opportunity to work out with more determination.”
After playing in the minor leagues for three years in a Kansas City uniform, Jin lamented that “my first season was perfect, beyond my expectations, but the following year, COVID-19 wiped out my entire season.” “After the pandemic, I struggled to find my groove, but with the help of my teammates in the second half of the season, I was able to finish on a high note, winning Pitcher of the Month,” he recalls.
Jin Woo-young learned a lot while playing in the United States, an advanced baseball country. In particular, he focused on his fastball and changeup, which gave him a solid weapon as a pitcher.
“At first, my changeup wasn’t perfect, so I threw mostly fastballs, and my pitches weren’t fast, so I focused on my pitches,” he said. “There weren’t many changeup options, so I learned a slider in the first year’s spring camp. My pitching coach recommended a splitter, and it was the perfect pitch for my hands.” “I had a pretty successful season while I was in the U.S., and I think I learned a lot,” he added.
His coach in Kansas City was Mark Davis, who won the 1989 Cy Young Award in a San Diego uniform. “He gave me a lot of know-how as a pitcher and helped me a lot,” said Woo-young Jin.메이저놀이터
Upon returning to South Korea, he joined the military, but he couldn’t let go of his baseball dreams. “I was a full-time reserve soldier, so after work, I trained at a training center near my home from 6 to 10 p.m.,” says Jin. “I built up my skills while training, and my coach helped me work out late at night, so I was able to fill in the gaps.”
“My fastball is now up to 150 kilometers, and my average fastball is around 145 to 146 kilometers,” said Jin, who plays for the Paju Challengers after completing his military service. In addition, he has a good mix of sliders, splitters, and curves, thanks to his American training.
After playing in the U.S. for so long, life with the Paju Challengers must have been unfamiliar. “The lifestyle was very different from the U.S., but I tried to adapt quickly to the given environment,” Jin said. “My teammates, managers, and coaches helped me a lot, so I was able to adapt well without any problems.”
In particular, the advice of pitcher Han Sun-tae (29), who joined LG through a tryout in 2018, was a big help. “He told me a lot of things, but the words ‘don’t be nervous and do what you’re used to doing’ are the most memorable,” said Jin Woo-young, adding, “I was worried before the tryout, and he gave me the biggest support.”
The tryouts were over, and all that remained was the draft, where he would be selected by a team. “It was the day I’ve been thinking about and imagining since I came to Korea,” Jin said, adding, “I showed everything I could do, and I think I finished well without any regrets.” “I think I showed everything I can do and I think I finished well,” he said, adding, “I’m going to get back on track, work hard, and wait, and I’m sure there will be good results.