“I think my strengths are my aggressive pitching and my ability to handle hitters with ease. My dream is to be a starting pitcher who throws long innings.”
NC Dinos’ Lee Jun-ho shared his aspirations.
A product of Gyeongnam High School and Sungkyunkwan University, Lee is a right-handed pitcher with an accurate delivery and the ability to run a stable game. He was drafted by NC in the 6th round, 54th overall, in 2023, and was recognized for his potential and spent the off-season in Arizona’s spring training camp.메이저사이트
In particular, he had an unforgettable experience on September 9. He started the Futures (second team) League away game against the Samsung Lions at Gyeongsan Ballpark and pitched nine innings of two-hit ball, striking out five and walking none to help NC win 8-0. It was the 68th complete game in the Futures League (since 2010) and the second in NC Futures team history after Lee Jae-hak of Masan Samsung Electronics on August 25, 2012.
“I’ve been feeling good lately, so I just threw as usual, and the inning just went by,” said Lee on the 15th at Changwon NC Park. “The other thing I was conscious of was not to give up a walk, but in the end, I didn’t and finished the game. I’m very happy with that,” he beamed.
“I’ve been in the starting rotation for the second team lately, and I’ve pitched five innings and one run in three games. I was able to keep the good pitches I had against Samsung. I think that’s why the results were good.”
Since the start of the season, Lee has been steadily learning the ropes in the Futures League, serving as a substitute starter and chaser whenever there was a gap in the NC first team pitching staff. However, due to his lack of experience, the results have not been great. As of July 17, his first-team record was 2-2 with no wins and a 5.95 ERA in 10 appearances (19.2 innings).
The July 4 game against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes was particularly memorable for him. On that day, Lee started and fanned 74 batters, but gave up four runs on five hits, three walks and one earned run in 2.2 innings. He suffered his second loss of the season as NC fell to 4-8.
Lee said, “I can’t forget it. I had to fight with the hitters by throwing fastballs and strikes quickly, but because I wasn’t getting into a groove, I couldn’t fight with the hitters and they were fighting with me, so the results weren’t good.” “When the ball count is unfavorable, it’s tough, and when the ball count is favorable, the results are good. I learned from that experience how to get a favorable ball count and how to play after that,” he nodded.
It’s been tough, but his time in the Futures League has made him better. In 13 Futures League games (61.2 innings), Lee is now 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA.
He said, “The (Futures Team) manager Gong Pil-sung and coach Son Jung-wook believed in me. They guided me well and I was able to pitch with confidence. I was getting good results thanks to them,” he said. “My strengths are to get hitters’ bats going quickly to create big hits and to pitch aggressively with a favorable ball count, which I didn’t show at the beginning of the season. I was disappointed, but after pitching a lot of games in the second team, I think I got a feel for what to do. I think I just need to throw confidently,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
NC’s top rookie Shin Young-woo is Lee Jun-ho’s closest teammate. The two players also have something in common: they are both from Gyeongnam High School. “I was closest to (Shin) Young-woo. We were drafted together. We eat together and go to cafes when we have a break,” he said.
After consistently performing well in the Futures League, including a complete game shutout of Samsung Electronics on the 9th, Lee was called up by NC manager Kang In-hwa on the 14th. At the time, Kang said, “Lee Jun-ho will be active in the long relief side. He pitched well in the second team recently,” explaining why he called him up.
“I try not to think too much on the mound. “I think that’s the most important thing,” he said. “I think it led to good results when I threw confidently, in my rhythm, as I thought, without thinking about anything. Just because I’m in the first team, I try to throw the same way without thinking about it,” he said.
“I’ve been starting (in the Futures League), but my role now is to pitch a lot of innings,” he said, emphasizing that he wants to be in charge of the long innings and give the pitchers and hitters a boost.
NC is currently in third place with 65 wins, two ties and 53 losses, and is looking to qualify for fall baseball for the first time in three years since 2020 (when they were the overall champions). Lee’s shoulders are not light.
“I want to fulfill my role for the rest of the season, and if I continue to work hard and show good form, I think I can play in the postseason,” he said, adding, “It’s a stage I can only dream about. I want to play (in the postseason) so badly, and if I can throw, I will try to throw the ball more confidently.”
Finally, Lee said, “My strength is my aggressive pitching. I have the ability to handle hitters easily and easily. My dream is to become a long-inning starter. I hope to secure a spot in the NC starting lineup one day,” he said.