Kiwoom Heroes second-year outfielder Park Soo-jong (24) successfully completed his first career start in front of his parents.
Park started in the No. 8 spot in right field against the NC Dinos of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, on April 21 and went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
In the bottom of the second inning, Park batted first with two outs and one on, and took a two-pitch changeup from NC starter Tanner Tully for a single. It was Park’s first career hit. In his second at-bat in the top of the fifth inning, he took a five-pitch fastball from Tanner for an RBI single. Facing reliever Ryu Jin-wook in the top of the seventh inning, Park hit a grounder to the first baseman but made a head-first slide to first base to complete the three-hit game.
After graduating from Chung-Ang University, Park went undrafted in the rookie draft and joined the Kiwoom organization as a developmental player. In his first year, he didn’t make the first team and played exclusively in the Futures League, batting 2-for-7 (44-for-158) with 19 RBI, 22 runs scored, one stolen base and a .653 OPS in 63 games. This year, he was briefly called up to the first team in July, but spent most of the season in the second team. In 44 games in the Futures League, he batted 23-for-29 (122 RBI) with one home run, 20 RBI, 14 runs scored, and a .635 OPS.
Park Soo-jong, who has played sporadically as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner since his call-up to the first team on Jan. 1, made his first appearance in the starting lineup. In an interview before the game, manager Hong Won-ki said, “Park Soo-jong has good defense and quick feet. I think he has a lot of growth potential in batting. There are a lot of things to keep an eye on, so I started him in right field today,” he said, explaining the reasoning behind his decision.
Park showed off his skills to the fullest as expected by manager Hong Won-ki, saying, “I prepared for the game with the mindset of not regretting it because I only get one chance to start. The first hit came quickly, which helped me relax and I think I played a good game. At the end of the game, I think I have some regrets, but I’m happy to have gotten a good result.”
Park, who got his first hit 32 days after joining the first team, said, “Everyone was talking about when I would get my first hit, but it finally happened. I wasn’t impatient. I was just thankful that I was in the first team. I didn’t know when I would be called up, so I always prepared and tried to do well when I was called up,” Park said.
“I’m confident in my fielding and defense,” Park said of his strengths, adding, “I’m also confident with the bat. There are many things I need to work on in the future, and I need to work on my technique, but I’m confident. I also have a desire to hit long balls, but right now I’m thinking about what I can do well, so I’m practicing in the direction of what I can do well.”
Park said he thought of his parents the moment he made his first hit. “I think my parents came to watch the game today, but I didn’t try to find them on purpose. I thought it would be upsetting to show them how bad I was. And I was worried that if I tried to do well, I would end up doing badly. I didn’t even look at my parents,” he laughs. “I haven’t called them yet, but I think they would have been very proud of how I played today,” he said, adding that he was proud to have successfully completed his debut start in front of his parents.캡틴토토
Kiwoom has only 10 games left to play. Park’s chances of getting on the field are also running out. When asked about his goals for the rest of the season, Park said, “I want to do my best every day and show the possibility or reasons why I can be in the first team.” He is determined.