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A pitcher who awakened as a starter, suddenly rises as the rookie of the year

In the 2023 KBO League, the performance of young players from 10 clubs at the beginning of the season is outstanding. Amid the headaches caused by the successive appearances of injured players, the team that fills the void with new blood is doing a good job. One of them is the NC Dinos.

In NC, foreign pitcher Widener has not been able to pitch in a single game in the regular season due to back pain. Foreign hitter Martin returned to the first team only in early May after leaving for about a month right after the opening due to a side injury. It would not have been strange to move around the lower ranks because it was an NC whose power was weakened due to the FA transfer of key players last winter. However, as of the 17th, NC is in 5th place with a win rate of 19-17 and a win rate of 0.528. 

One of NC’s propaganda factors this season is the performance of Lee Yong-jun, a right-handed orthodox pitcher in his third year as a pro. Lee Yong-jun, born in 2002, graduated from Seoul Design High School and joined NC in 2021 in the 2nd round of the 2nd round, ranked 16th. 

※ NC Lee Yong-jun professional career major pitching records

Although he was a promising player who was nominated for the top ranking, Lee Yong-jun’s progress over the past two years was insignificant. Until last year, he appeared in 12 career games in the first team and threw a total of 23.2 innings, but recorded only one loss without harvesting any wins, saves, or holds. 

In particular, last year, he appeared in 10 games, but allowed 13 walks in 22 innings, with an average walk of 5.32 per 9 innings, so his control was unstable. He had an average ERA of 8.59, OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 1.014, and WHIP (average on-base allowed per inning) of 2.09, and detailed indicators were also poor.

However, this season, Lee Yong-jun is cruising with an average ERA of 1.53 and an OPS of 0.473 with 2 wins and no losses in 6 games. After making his first start against Changwon kt Wiz on April 12, which was his second appearance, and winning his first win in his debut with a good pitching of 5 innings and 1 run, he has been digesting the starting rotation ever since. His average walks per 9 innings is 3.99, which is still a bit high, but it is an improvement from last year.

The average velocity of Lee Yong-jun’s fastball decreased by 1.0 km/h from 144.2 km/h last year to 143.2 km/h this year. Unlike last year, when he was mainly used as a bullpen pitcher and was able to pitch at full power during short innings, this year he is being used as a starting pitcher. Looking only at his fastball velocity, it is difficult to say that he has the upper hand in the recent KBO league.

However, he has yet to avoid a home run this season, despite using hitter-friendly Changwon NC Park as his home. His blood slugging percentage is also suppressed at 0.210. Lee Yong-Jun’s speed is not fast, but he has power with the ball and he doesn’t allow long hits, so it can be interpreted that he is fighting hard.

If Lee Yong-joon continues the current pace, there is optimism that he will be able to compete for the rookie of the year as well as winning the Hangzhou Asian Games national team. NC’s last Rookie of the Year was infielder Park Min-woo in 2014. If Lee Yong-joon wins the Rookie of the Year, the NC Rookie of the Year will be born in 9 years.안전놀이터

Lee Yong-jun’s steady performance is expected to be directly related to NC’s fall baseball. Lee Yong-joon, who awakened as a starting pitcher in his third year as a pro, digests the full-time selection rotation, winning the Hangzhou Asian Games national team, NC fall baseball, and winning the rookie of the year.

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