“I felt really good. I don’t think I can express it other than just saying that it felt so good. To be honest, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even sleep the night before, but once I got an outcount, the tension and pressure went down. At that moment, I thought, ‘I can do it’.”
October 7, 2022 is a day that is not easily forgotten for LG’s new right pitcher Kang Hyo-jong (21). On this day, he started against NC at Changwon NC Park. It was a long-awaited first-team debut, and the result was also good. He even took the win with 2 runs in 5 innings, proving that the 2 years he spent after joining the pros were not wrong.
That’s why I spent a lot of time after joining. I wore an LG uniform as the 1st nomination in 2021, but I focused on conditioning rather than actual combat early on. During his high school days, he suffered a shoulder injury, and the LG club determined that the pitching mechanic needed revision. He did not completely rule out actual matches, but he did not produce any noticeable results in the Futures League appearances. It was also said that he suffers from Ips symptoms as the team repeatedly hunts for the first pitch.
Kang Hyo-jong looked back on the situation at the time and said, “As soon as I joined, I did a lot of training to strengthen my bad parts, including my shoulders. He got better while training. When he got better, he played actual matches, but pitching was not balanced in actual matches. He threw with poor balance, and his shoulder hurt again. This vicious cycle was repeated,” he said. That’s why people say that he is Ips,” he said.
Evolution is achieved through change. He met with pitching coach Kim Gyeong-tae to find a pitching form that suited him. In the second half of 2021, the first year of the pro, he recovered his pitch, and in 2022, he played a first-team camp and started an exhibition game, but his control was a problem. The mid-to-late 140 km/h fastball was strongly stuck in the catcher’s mitt, but the control was shaken. Eventually, with the opening of the 2022 season in front, he went down to the second team.
Although the debut game for the 1st team was cancelled, I spent a meaningful time in Icheon. Kang Hyo-jong said, “After consulting with coach Kim Gyeong-tae, we decided to change his arm swing to a shorter one. I think this was the turning point. Since then, the balance has been established and the control has become natural,” he said. “The coach paid a lot of attention to that. The coach always prepares his materials before the conversation. He takes pitching videos every day and checks the good and bad parts. Looking back at what I threw, I also quickly understand. In addition, they show a lot of videos of other pitchers,” he recalled the process of making a rebound.
There was also his role model in the pitching video. Major League (MLB) San Diego ace Darvish Yu (37), a pitcher he has always liked, is also making a long run by constantly changing his mechanics. Recently, I keep my balance and position while shortening my arm swing.
Kang Hyo-jong said, “I watched a lot of videos of MLB pitchers, and the pitchers that I found the most reference were Ryu Hyun-jin and Darvish. He personally likes Darvish, so he always watched Darvish throw. He has always been the best player, and even after surgery, he is a good thrower,” said Darvish. The process helped me. He saw the change as he filmed his throwing every day, and compared it with the video of Darvish. He also thought of wanting to become a player who plays consistently like Darvish,” he explained.
Kang Hyo-jong, who digested the Futures League with a shortened arm swing, made a process as meaningful as the result in the NC match on October 7th. He had the highest average velocity and used all four of his pitches. The highest speed of the fastball was 150 km, and the average speed was formed in the 146 km range.
He said, “The average velocity was 3 or 4 km, and the maximum velocity was about 2 km more. It was the day he threw the fastest ball in his life,” he smiled and said, “I became a winning pitcher after the game, and it felt really good. I don’t think I can express anything other than that he just felt so good. To be honest, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even sleep the night before, but once I got an outcount, the tension 스포츠토토 and pressure went down. At that moment, he thought, ‘I can do it’” and looked back on his first-team debut.
His performance before his debut in the first team continued in the education league. Kang Hyo-jong said, “The confidence I gained in Changwon was maintained in the education league. In the past, I had a lot of pressure on the mound, but now I feel comfortable. He has faith that he can play my game.”
The next schedule is Arizona Spring Camp, USA. Kang Hyo-jong departs as a selection team at Jung Woo-young’s recommendation. He said, “Wooyoung told me to work out together, so I was happy to go first. He is a senior who always works hard. It will definitely be of great help to me,” he said. “My goal for 2023 is to rotate in the first team. You can think of the number of wins or innings, but you have to get into the starting lineup first. He pledged that he wants to achieve this starting from entering the starting lineup.”
Currently, the 4 selections are confirmed. Casey Kelly, Adam Plutko, Kim Yun-sik, and Lee Min-ho are likely to form the opening rotation. In addition to Kang Hyo-jong, Lim Chan-gyu, Kim Young-jun, Lee Ji-gang, and Kim Yu-young compete for the one remaining spot. Of course, rotations can change at any time. Kim Yun-sik has been selected for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) national team, and there are also Asian Games during the season. It is a season where depth is more important than ever, and there is a high probability that an opportunity will come to Kang Hyo-jong.
Kang Hyo-jong said, “I want to continue the image I showed at the end of last year. Then, naturally, I think opportunities will come and results will come out.” “To get good results, you have to be more consistent, and you need to sharpen your breaking ball like the changeup more. I will prepare well during camp and show a good figure for the new season,” he said, putting his first full-time season in the first team.