For Kim Hye-seong (24, Kiwoom Heroes Lee Sang), this 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is a golden opportunity to overturn the major league (ML)’s suspicious eye toward him.
Kim Hye-sung was included in the list of 30 final entries for the 2023 WBC announced on the 4th. Personally, it is the second Taegeuk mark after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 스포츠토토
The expected role is an infield utility. Lee Kang-cheol, coach of the Korean national baseball team, said, “Edman is a player who won a Gold Glove in the major leagues in 2021. It is a resource that can form a keystone combination with Kim Ha-seong.” I can see third base, but I decided that Kim Ha-seong was better,” he said, revealing his infield operation plan.
Kim Hye-sung’s name is nowhere to be found. Kim Hye-seong is the first KBO League talented infielder to win the Golden Gloves second baseman (2022) and shortstop (2021) category. However, it is expected that the team will start as a backup because the infield is outstanding, including only two major leaguers. Along with Kim Hye-seong, Choi Jeong (SSG) was selected as the professional third baseman, Oh Ji-hwan (LG) and Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) as the shortstop, and Tommy Edman (St. Louis) as the second baseman.
It is too early to be discouraged that it is not the first week. Not only are his competitors outstanding, but Kim Hye-sung’s outstanding athletic ability and versatility are recognized and noticed by not only the KBO league but also the major leagues. The quick feet that won the stealing king in 2021 are an important weapon that can reverse the flow in the second half of the game.
Fan Graph, an American baseball statistics media, updated information on overseas league players in December of last year, saying, “Kim Hye-sung’s contact tools and speed tools enable him to play as a utility player in the major leagues. In the KBO league, he stole 80 bases in the past two seasons combined. I did it, and I cut it under 4 seconds from home to first base.” 스포츠토토
There is one point that stands out. Fangraphs pointed out, “However, Hye-sung Kim’s (fast) speed is shown less in defense. At times, his defensive range is questionable.”
This is the part that I don’t understand at first glance. Kim Hye-seong is evaluated as being more suitable as a second baseman than a shortstop because his throwing is somewhat unstable, but there is little disagreement about the range of defense. It is said that if he is limited to second baseman, he can work well in the major leagues. A major league scout who has visited Gocheok Sky Dome several times over the past few years also praised Kim Hye-sung, saying, “Kim Hye-sung’s athletic ability is the best among shortstops in Korea. His defensive range is really wide.”
If the evaluation came from not seeing many matches, this WBC is a good opportunity to overturn such negative views. Korea was placed in Group B of the first round along with Japan, Australia, the Czech Republic and China. If they advance to the second round, they will compete against the top two teams from Taiwan, Netherlands, Cuba, Italy and Panama. There are ample opportunities for Kim Hye-seong to start as a starter to arrange the stamina of the main players.
Kim Hye-seong was originally expected to be a backup utility in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but he took the opportunity and played a big role as a starter for various reasons, such as Choi Joo-hwan (SSG)’s injury and Park Min-woo (NC)’s voluntary resignation. In his defense, he worked well with Oh Ji-hwan, and his batting average was 0.615 (8 hits in 13 at-bats) and 2 stolen bases in 6 games, showing his strength without hesitation. In that respect, for Kim Hye-seong, this WBC is a showcase for entering the major leagues.
The fan graph said, “Kim Hye-seong plays mainly as a second baseman, but he has the shoulder and athletic ability to play at shortstop. He lacks the long hitting power to play as a main second baseman in the big leagues, so he needs to show more versatility defensively. There is,” but expected, “his age and short service time potentially make him a major league free agent in 2024.” 스포츠토토