Hanwha has consistently collected right-handed prospects in the rookie draft in recent years. Nam Ji-min and Han Seung-joo in 2020, Moon Dong-joo and Park Joon-young in 2022, and Kim Seo-hyun in 2023, the team has consistently selected right-handed hard-throwing pitchers in the top rounds to build its mound depth.
However, there was a relative lack of lefties. They have Kim Ki-joong, the second overall pick in the 2021 first round, but he has yet to fully establish himself with the first team. Kim Bum-soo and Jeong Woo-ram are the only two lefties in the first team this season. With only Kim Bum-soo in the 20s, the team needs to address the imbalance on the left side of the mound.
That’s why Hanwha spent all of its top picks in the first and second rounds of the 2024 rookie draft on left-handed pitchers. The team selected Hwang Jun-seo, a max-age Jang Chung-go left-hander, with the No. 1 overall pick in the first round, followed by Cho Dong-wook, another Jang Chung-go left-hander, with the No. 11 overall pick in the second round. That’s two of the top picks in the draft for left-handed pitchers other than righties.
Hwang Jun-seo, the No. 1 overall pick, is expected to make an immediate impact. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “We got a good player. When I saw him throw in the spring, he looked really good. He’s got velocity, and he’s got a changeup. He has a good pitching form,” Choi said. “A left-hander who throws in the mid-140s has an advantage. The ability to throw strikes seems to be good.”
Hwang threw a fastball up to 150 kilometers in April for the E-Mart Bae, but as the season progressed, his velocity dropped along with his weight. He is skinny for his 184-centimeter height, and his body is not yet complete. “The scouts said his velocity dropped a bit in the middle of the season, but it’s okay if there’s nothing wrong with his body. It’s something that can drop a little bit temporarily. When you enter the professional league, you have a diet of about 6,000 calories a day and systematic training. I’m not worried about it because naturally my body will get better.”
Second-round pick Dong-wook Cho, a left-hander, is another prospect that Hanwha’s scouts have been keeping tabs on since the beginning of the year. At 6-foot-3, he has good end-of-the-ball movement with his three-pitch arsenal, which is rare. He went 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 17 high school games this year. In 38⅔ innings pitched, he struck out 40 and walked 19.
Choi said, “When the scouting team briefed me before the draft, I told them that Cho might go in the last minute of the first round. I told them that if he didn’t go, I would take him in the second round unconditionally, and that would be the best.” “After the season, I will take him along with Hwang Jun-seo to the Miyazaki, Japan, wrap-up camp to see him throw the ball. That way, we can see how they compare to the existing players and decide the roster for next year’s spring training.”
Bozik has a number of options for next season. Hwang Jun-seo is categorized as a typical starter, but Choi doesn’t plan to pigeonhole him. “If he’s good, we’ll use him in the first team. If he doesn’t start, he’ll have to think about it. If a spot opens up in the bullpen, he can be used as a reliever. It’s not a good idea to keep them in Futures until they get a starting spot in the first team. First-rounders in particular struggle in Futures. If you only use them as starters, you could close the door to the first team. It’s okay to use them in the bullpen to get first-team experience. Then, if there’s a starter’s hole, they can step in,” he said, noting that he doesn’t want to limit their roles from the start. 카지노