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‘110th place last car’ reversed, 147km bang…”last nomination, I prepared really hard”

It’s quite the reversal of the last 110 picks. Kang Gun (20), a dramatic late-round pick in the rookie draft, has beaten out all the top rounders and is considered a must-have for KT Wiz in the 2024 season.

Kang-geon is the biggest hit of the 2024 KT Spring Training. When he was selected with the last 110th pick in the 2023 rookie draft, he was a nobody with an uphill battle for survival ahead, but after a thrilling first-team debut late last year, he joined the first-team spring camp and is considered a must-win candidate.

From the first spring camp of the Busan Gijang, Kang-geon attracted attention with his unique delivery and confidence. At the time, manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “Kang-geon was the best in the first camp live pitching. His fastball was 146, 147 kilometers and his RPM was very good. He’s gotten so much better.”

Kang carried the momentum into the Okinawa spring camp, where he pitched another impressive game in the first practice game. On Feb. 25 against the Kia Tigers, he threw a 147-kilometer fastball, striking out four and walking none in one inning of one-hit ball, and was named the Daily MVP.

On the first day of March at the Kushikawa Stadium in Okinawa, Japan, Kang said, “I’ve been working on my body and I’m showing it well. “I feel confident,” he said, adding, “I’m sure other players are working hard, but for me, I prepared hard with the mindset that I have to beat all the players above me. My current pace is very good,” he said, sharing his secret to victory.

The Suwon Jangang-go native was selected by KT in the 11th round (110th overall) of the 2023 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Draft, and nearly realized his professional dream. Despite being the last pick in both the KBO and KT, he quickly rose through the ranks in the Futures League, and on October 3 of last year, he was signed to the first team, beating out top picks Kim Gun-woong (4th round), Lee Jun-hee (6th round), Hwang Eui-jun (8th round), Jung Jin-ho (9th round), and Lee Jun-myeong (10th round).

Kang-geon was included in this year’s first-team spring training roster after gaining valuable experience with a 1.35 ERA (1 earned run in 6⅔ innings) in four games without a loss last year. He has been showing off his good pitches since the Busan Gijang spring training and has caught the eye of manager Lee Kang-cheol.

“It doesn’t really feel real,” said Kang Gun, who was drafted 110th overall and made it to the first team spring training. I still made an impact in the first team last year, and I think the coach saw my potential and brought me to the first team camp. I’m honored to be able to follow along with the first team even though I’ve only played a few games,” he said, adding, “I’m still young, so I want to learn step by step and secure my place.”

Another secret to his rapid growth is the advice and care he received from many pitching seniors. “I’m not the kind of person who approaches seniors first, but if they 토토 don’t look good, they come over and ask me how I’m doing. Many seniors, including Mr. Ko Young-pyo, tell me to ask them if I have any questions. “They are all good,” he said, expressing his gratitude.

Kang’s first-team debut and arrival at spring training was a big deal at home. “My parents were surprised when I registered for the first team last year. When I told them I was traveling from Iksan to Suwon, they said, ‘It’s not like you’re coming home today.’ When I explained that it was a first-team call-up, they were very happy. They told me to do well in this camp,” he said.

Finally, Kang-geon, who is being considered for the must-win group this year, was asked about his goals for the second season. “If I play a lot of games this year, I want to be a pitcher that the manager can trust and use, and I want to be able to help the team. I want to pitch with stability,” he said. “In terms of fastballs, I reached 147 kilometers in the KIA game. I will try to throw up to 150 kilometers this season,” he said.

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