There was an unusual scene at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on March 3, when the LG Twins and Hanwha Eagles played a baseball game. As the starting pitcher walked off the mound after giving up 11 hits in the fifth inning, a standing ovation erupted from the crowd. Teammates and juniors lined up in front of the dugout to greet the pitcher.메이저사이트
The star of the show was Hanwha’s Moon Dong-ju, who pitched his final professional baseball game of the year. With more than 30 games left to go in the regular season, he decided to ‘shutter down’ early. It was a kind gesture from the coaching staff after his injury last year and a decision to protect the team’s future.
Although he didn’t reap the rewards of Yoojong, Moon’s second season as a pro was a solid one. Steadiness is what stood out the most. He won eight games, tied for first on the team after four days, and posted a 3.72 ERA in 118⅔ innings.
The foundation was his top-notch fastball. Along with Kiwoom Heroes’ Ahn Woo-jin, he is part of a new generation of pitchers who will lead the “velocity revolution” in Korean baseball. According to Statistiz, Moon’s fastball velocity value this season ranked third among league starters. His average fastball was clocked at 151.6 kilometers per hour. On April 12 against the KIA Tigers, he became the first Korean pitcher in baseball history to break the 160-kilometer-per-hour barrier.
His control of his fastball and changeup improved. His slider-changeup is sharper, and his curveball is down from last year. His walks per nine innings dropped from 4.4 to 3.19. He’s gone from being a hard-throwing prospect that every team has one or two to a league-leading ace.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho was full of praise. He said, “He’s expanded his horizons. One of the smallest changes he made was to change his pitching tempo with runners on base. “Dong-ju used to just blindly try to throw hard,” he said, laughing, “but even if he throws lightly, he can reach 150 kilometers per hour (mph).”
Despite Moon’s remarkable progress, it’s hard to see him winning the Rookie of the Year award this year. There are plenty of budding contenders across the two-tier, not the least of which is KIA’s Yoon Young-chul, who could challenge for 10 wins in the remaining games.
Instead, Moon has one “leveling up” opportunity left that his Rookie of the Year contenders don’t have. He’s been named to the Hangzhou Asian Games squad, which departs later this month. It’s a golden opportunity to gain international experience with his first senior national team.
Speaking to the media after the previous day’s game, Moon had high aspirations. “I will prepare harder for the Asian Games, even if it means pitching in the final game,” he said, a promise that is sure to close a chapter in the development of the next Korean baseball ace.