Kim Min-hyuk, 28, a 10-year veteran outfielder for the KT Wiz, was a backup outfielder in manager Lee Kang-cheol’s plans before the start of this season. However, due to the pre-opening injury of his teammate Choi Byeong-dae, he was promoted to the starting middle infield, and after Choi’s return, he has been the main outfielder due to Choi’s poor batting. For Kim Min-hyuk, who is only in his 10th year as a professional, but this is his third year playing full-time after 2019 and 2022, the 2023 season will be remembered as a time when he will show his true colours.
Speaking at KT Wiz Park in Suwon ahead of their match against Hanwha on 9 September, head coach Lee Kang-cheol was full of praise for Kim’s performance. When asked to name the pitchers and batters who have played a crucial role in the team’s turnaround from last place at the start of the season, Lee mentioned Kim Min-hyuk. “I don’t have to tell you about (Kim) Min-hyuk, but he’s been doing well since the beginning of the season. Even if I want to manage him, the game doesn’t go well on days when he doesn’t go out, so I joke with him, ‘Hey, I don’t want you to go out,’ but he’s doing a great job.” “It’s different from before, when he would have taken a break because he was sick, but now he’s patient and tries to keep playing when the mood is good,” Lee said. “He gets runs when he gets on base, and he gets RBIs when it matters. Min-hyuk connects well with the No. 1, 3, and 4 hitters, so our entire team’s run production goes up.”
The game on the 9th was no different. Min-hyuk made the most of his top-of-the-order role. After falling behind 1-5 after three innings due to back-to-back homers by Noh Si-hwan, KT scored a run in the fourth inning to pull within one and then scored six runs in the fifth inning to take a 10-5 lead. Despite Noh’s eighth-inning homer, his first career three-homer game, KT held on for a 12-6 victory and a third straight win. Kim Min-hyuk went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one run scored in the win.
When asked about the driving force behind his hot hitting in the postgame interview, Kim said, “I’m trying not to differentiate between good and bad. I think the secret is to have a consistent mindset,” he said. “At the plate, I always try to hit in front of the plate. If I put the strike zone in front of me, I can strike out a lot, but I’m confident in putting the ball in play. After 2S, I’ll move the strike point back a little bit, but before that, I’ll always try to hit it in front.”
For his three home runs against the opposition, Noh was named the KBO’s monthly MVP for July. Kim Min-hyuk was also among the nominees, hitting .387 (1st), 29 hits (2nd), and 15 runs scored (tied for 2nd) in July. When asked if he was disappointed not to win the award, Kim laughed, saying, “The impact is different, and seeing what (Noh) Sihwan did today, I think it belongs to him.”
KT, which bounced around the bottom of the table at the beginning of the season, with a win-loss margin of -14, has now climbed to third place. When asked for his thoughts on this, Kim Min-hyuk said, “It’s because our older brothers didn’t collapse on top and held on. When they did that, we felt like we had to do more. I think this part of the team connected well.”
When Lee said that he emphasised ‘not giving up’ before the game, Kim Min-hyuk said, “Honestly, when it was 5-1, I thought, ‘It’s going to be hard today,’ but when (Hwang) Jae-gyun came alive and (Park) Byung-ho-hyung hit like that, it changed my mindset. I think I was thinking, ‘I shouldn’t have these thoughts when my brothers are playing like that,'” he said.메이저놀이터
His teammate and fellow professional, Choi Jae-dae, is an inspiration for Kim Min-hyuk. “He plays a lot, and even when I tell him to ‘take a break,’ he keeps going. I used to think that if I played hard, my record would get worse, so I wanted to take a break, but watching him changed my mind. I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of motivation from him,” he explained.