Lotte rookie outfielder Kim Min-seok (19) shares many similarities with Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom), including being a left-handed outfielder, having good contact, and making the transition from infield to outfield after joining the professional ranks.
As the second Lee Jung-hoo, he was nicknamed the resignation idol. He could be the fourth player to be selected to the All-Star Fan Vote after Ahn Chi-hong (KIA) in 2009, Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) in 2017 and Jeong Woo-young (LG) in 2019. In 41 안전놀이터 games this season, he’s batting .258 with one home run, 17 RBIs, 23 runs scored, eight doubles, a .333 on-base percentage, a .320 OPS, a .653 slugging percentage and a .289 on-base percentage.
The consensus is that he is one of the best high school hitters to emerge in the last two to three years. Kim Min-seok started in the No. 7 spot in the lineup against Busan IA on April 2, going 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, two runs scored, and a walk. He was instrumental in Lotte’s 14-2 victory over KIA pitcher Yang Hyun-jong.
The talent wasn’t hard to see in his response at the plate. In the first inning, he didn’t react to Yang’s first-pitch fastball, but in the second inning, he slid a fastball outside for a single to left field. In the sixth inning, he crushed a fastball from Kim Jae-yeol for a two-run double over the left-field fence.
SBS Sports commentator Lee Soon-cheol, who broadcast the game, said, “He doesn’t look like a first-year high school player. He didn’t hit the fastball in the first inning, so I thought he was aiming for a changeup, but he didn’t miss the fastball again. He has a lot of sense. It didn’t go as Yang Hyun-jong intended. Kim Min-seok made a good response.”
If the rookie can get a good mix of pitches left and right, he has the makings of a high batting average. Although he’s in the mid-twenties, his changeup is still unproven, but the fastballs of the KBO’s first-team pitchers are already at a high level.
Commentator Lee Soon-cheol watched Kim’s at-bats closely and said, “Even in unfavorable pitch counts, when a fastball comes, he sets up and swings. That means he has good sense. His stance doesn’t change much on fast balls.”
However, Lee Soon-cheol said, “It’s not like he’s hitting a changeup with a full stance. If you don’t want to jinx yourself in the second year, you need to change to hitting with form in your training from now on. When a changeup comes, first- and second-year hitters don’t use their lower body to meet it, but they use their upper body to hit it, which needs to be changed if they want to continue to perform well.”
In other words, Kim needs to improve his ability to respond to changeups if he wants to actually hit triples. According to baseball stats site Statiz, Kim’s batting average by pitch is 0.226 for a four-seam, 0.333 for a two-seam, 0.360 for a slider, 0.273 for a curve, 0.143 for a changeup, and 0.273 for a splitter. He’s not very strong against changeups except for the slider.