“I didn’t realize it before, but now that I’m wearing the uniform, I feel like I’ve become a national team member, and I hope other people can see that I look good in the uniform.”
Kim Joo-won (21), who is expected to be the future of the NC Dinos and the next national shortstop, expressed his excitement and determination for his first Taegeuk mark.
“It’s exciting to be playing on the same team with my older brothers and in the same organization,” Kim said in an interview ahead of the national baseball team’s open training camp for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Thursday. I think it’s a great experience for me to play with players from other countries. I hope that I will have a good result as I was selected.”
Kim Joo-won, who graduated from Samilcho (Gunpo City Little) and Ansan Jungangjoong-Yushin High School, joined NC with the sixth pick of the second round of the 2021 Rookie Draft. He has been a promising prospect to be called up to the national team since his high school days, but this is the first time he has worn the Taegeuk mark as international competitions have not been held due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
For the youngest member of the team, Park Min-woo (30) and his older NC brothers joked, “Make sure you win a gold medal,” but they were also careful. On the national team, Kim Ji-chan (22-Samsung Lions), who is one year older, helped. “I’m not really close to the other players, so the national team was a good opportunity,” Kim said. We’re talking evenly, and (Kim) Ji-chan is in the same batting order as my brother, so we’re playing catch together and adapting,” he laughed.
Kim, who debuted in 2021 and became NC’s starting shortstop last year, is still going through growing pains. His numbers this season have been less than stellar, with a .229 batting average, 10 home runs, 51 RBI, 51 runs scored, a .327 on-base percentage, and a .339 slugging percentage in 120 games. However, his athleticism and flexibility have drawn early comparisons to Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres). “Kim Joo-won was born with flexibility and resilience,” Song Ji-won, 50, the NC first team hitting coach, told Star News after the end of last season. “In the past, Kim Ha-seong’s expectations were also major league. As the first and second years passed, the club thought he was a talent who could challenge the big leagues, and the coaching staff continued to improve his physical strength, skills, and mentality accordingly. We’ve seen that Kim Joo-won can do it.”
That potential was also felt by his teammates, who watched him in training for the first time. Choi Ji-hoon (26-SSG Landers) and Choi Won-jun (26-KIA Tigers), two of the most experienced players on the squad, both in the middle infield, agreed that Kim stood out. “They’re all good players,” Choi said, “but I was a little surprised to see (Kim) throw the ball. I’m pretty confident in my throwing, but wow…” he said. Choi Won-jun echoed the sentiment, saying, “I was also surprised by (Kim) Joo-won’s defense. I’ve only seen her in games, but I’ve never seen her practice like this before, and I thought it was a little different.”스포츠토토
Kim is one of the few hitters on the team who can provide a boost to a batting lineup that lacks long balls. Noh Si-hwan (23-Hanwha Eagles), Moon Bo-kyung (23-LG Twins), and Kang Baek-ho (24-KT Wiz) are expected to form the centerpiece of the batting lineup, while the team will rely on the power of Kim Joo-won, who broke double-digit home runs for the second straight year. On defense, he shares the shortstop position with Park Sung-ho (25-SSG Landers). However, he is a switch-hitter and can play any position in the infield, so he can always be used as a late-game pinch-hitter.
While everyone is counting on the power of his long bat, he just wants to contribute to the team in any way possible. “Even though it didn’t show up on the record, I hit some good pitches in the games before I joined, and I didn’t feel bad hitting them,” Kim said. “Surviving is the most important thing. If I’m lucky to hit a home run, I’ll move on, but if I play, whether I’m starting or pinch-hitting, I want to survive and create opportunities for the batters behind me.”