“I’m very honored and I think it’s going to be fun,” said Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), the only high school player on the Hangzhou Asian Games baseball team led by coach Liu Zhong-il.
In his three years of high school, Zhang had an outstanding record of 6-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 21 games (68⅓ innings), with a whopping 102 strikeouts. He also struck out 42 batters with his four-pitch arsenal, but with such a dominant delivery, he has a lot of potential. Jang Hyun-seok, who was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the KBO rookie draft, chose to challenge himself in the United States, and the LA Dodgers gave him a $900,000 signing bonus.
“It’s hard to believe that he’s 19 years old, but he’s a tremendous pitching prospect who throws up to 97 mph and has a variety of pitches, including a fastball, curveball, changeup, slider, and sweeper,” said Dodger Nation, an LA Dodgers media outlet. “He was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the KBO Draft, but he chose to play in the U.S. and the Dodgers gave him a chance,” it said.
“The Dodgers have had great success with international players like Ryu Hyun-jin, Genta Maeda, and Hideo Nomo, and we hope Jang Hyun-seok can do the same,” he said, adding, “Dodger fans will be excited to see what he can do in the big leagues.”
Speaking to reporters at Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou, China, on Aug. 28, Jang said, “The manager or coach hasn’t told me about my role yet. I don’t know when and under what circumstances I will be called upon, but I will pitch the best I can.”
The Hangzhou Asian Games baseball team, which aims to actively develop players who will be the mainstay of the national team in international competitions for years to come, selected players in the KBO who are 25 years old or younger or in their fourth year in the league, with three players under the age of 29 as wild cards.
Jang Hyun-seok is also adapting quickly, as he doesn’t have much of an age gap with his seniors. “My older brothers (Moon) Dong-ju, (Jung) Woo-young, and (Park) Young-hyun are doing a great job, and my senior brother (Na) Gyun-an is really taking care of me. All the older brothers talk to me first and play jokes with me, so I feel comfortable and get along with them.”캡틴토토
With younger players dominating the team, the atmosphere is great. Jang Hyun-seok says, “All of my brothers are laughing and having fun. I will do my best to match the atmosphere,” he said.
Meanwhile, coach Ryu Jung-il warned against expecting too much from Jang Hyun-seok, saying, “He’s still a young player,” but added, “He’s also a great player. That’s why we’re taking him from the United States. I expect such players to grow up and become a player who represents Korea,” he said, adding that he looks forward to Jang Hyun-seok’s growth.