Dreaming of a Catcher Kingdom… Why You’re Obsessed With Catchers

January 18, 2024 | by

The professional baseball SSG Landers renewed their contract with Kim Min-sik (34), an internal free agent (FA) catcher, on the 16th. It is a two-year contract of 500 million won (400 million won per year, 100 million won option). SSG will have a thicker player base in the catcher’s position by catching Kim Min-sik, the starting catcher who appeared in the FA market four days after recruiting Lee Ji-young (38), a former national team catcher, from Kiwoom Heroes through a “sign and trade” method on the 12th. Lee Ji-young signed a two-year, FA contract with Kiwoom for a total of 400 million won (350 million won per year, option 50 million won) and was immediately traded to SSG. SSG will give Kiwoom 250 million won in cash and the right to select a rookie in the third round in 2025.

Kim Min-sik joined the SK Wyverns (now SSG) in 2012 and played for the KIA Tigers from 2017 to 2021, before returning to the SSG through a trade in May 2022. He played in 821 games in nine seasons in the KBO League, recording a batting average of 0.227 (426 hits in 1875 times at bat), 24 home runs and 214 RBIs. He has experience as a “winning catcher” who led KIA to its unified victory in 2017, SSG’s regular season “Wire to Wire” in 2022, and the Korean Series championship.

Lee Ji-young is a veteran catcher who joined the Samsung Lions in 2009 and recorded a batting average of 0.280 (942 hits in 3368 times at bat), 16 homers, 368 RBIs and 362 points in 1,270 games in the KBO League. Lee has grown into a leading catcher since 2012 when he returned from military service, and has been the winning catcher for three consecutive years until 2014, contributing to the team’s four consecutive losses. However, after Samsung acquired FA catcher Kang Min-ho in 2018, Lee lost his footing and moved to Kiwoom in December that year through triangular trade with Kia Tigers and Kim Dong-yeop, and has been a starting catcher again since 2019. He also played for the Korean national team at the World Baseball Classic in March 2023.

SSG embraced the two veteran FA catchers with winning experience, and recruited catchers who are as good as any other team in the 2024 season. In other words, it solved the problem of catchers, which was one of the most important assignments in the winter stove league after the 2023 season.

SSG sent Lee Jae-won (36, Hanwha Eagles), a “one-club man” offensive catcher who contributed to the “SK dynasty,” at the request of his release before securing Lee Ji-young and Kim Min-sik, while Lee Heung-ryeon (34), a veteran backup catcher wearing a winning ring in the Samsung-Doosan Bears-SSG, took off his catcher’s mask and announced a new start as an away power analyst at the club. The gap was filled by Shin Bum-soo (26), a former KIA player, and Park Dae-on (29), a former NC Dinos player, who were selected in the second draft. They also formed a competitive landscape with Cho Hyung-woo (22), a promising catcher who joined the team in 2021. On top of this, veteran FA catchers Kim Min-sik and Lee Ji-young are focusing their efforts on the team.

SSG, which has two “winning catchers” Kim Min-sik and Lee Ji-young, and a number of potential promising catchers, will be able to achieve a “catcher kingdom.”

It is hard to present such a hopeful prospect right now. It is not too much to say that there is no player in Jin Yong, the catcher of SSG, who can claim to be the best talent in the league who can lead the team to victory. Let’s see his performance in 2023. Kim Min-sik played 122 games, the most in the SSG, and recorded a batting average of 0.218 (58 hits from 266 times at bat), five homers, 34 RBIs and 28 points. First backup catcher Cho Hyung-woo, who is armed with good shoulders, had a batting average of 0.185 (22 hits from 119 times at bat), two homers, 12 RBIs and nine points in 62 games. Lee Jae-won (27 games, 0.091 batting average) and Lee Heung-ryeon (16 games, 0.071) who briefly appeared in the main league last year, are now gone.

Lee Ji-young appeared in 81 games, the second most after Kim Dong-heon (102 games), who grew up rapidly in Kiwoom last year, with a batting average of 0.249 (54 hits in 217) with eight RBIs and 23 scores. It is unclear whether he will be able to show his old skills of playing more than 100 games for four consecutive years, including leading the championship with a batting average of .300 in Samsung and playing 137 games, the most in a personal record, in Kiwoom in 2022.

Park Dae-on, who came from NC, appeared in 26 games last year and recorded a batting average of 0.286 (8 hits in 28 times at bat), three RBIs and six scores. He was the “fourth catcher” after Kim Hyung-joon (26 games), who showed his potential in international competitions and postseason including Park Se-hyuk (88 games), Ahn Jung-yeol (77 games), and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Shin Bum-soo, a former Kia Tigers player, had a batting average of 0.170 (15 hits in 88 times at bat), two homers, and 10 RBIs and seven runs in 36 games last year. He was also the “fourth catcher” behind Kim Tae-gun (114 games), Han Seung-taek (49 games), and Han Jun-su (48 games). 월카지노

The origin of “Capture Kingdom” is Doosan

Doosan is the originator of the “catcher kingdom.” Doosan has elevated its championship trophy several times throughout Korea’s professional baseball league, from Kim Kyung-moon and Cho Bum-hyun, who won the title in the first year of the Korean baseball league in 1982, to Kim Tae-hyung, Lee Do-hyung, Choi Ki-moon, Jin Gap-yong, Hong Seong-heun, Choi Jae-hoon, Park Se-hyuk and Yang Eui-ji. Doosan has continued to search for top-class catchers and has utilized existing catchers to strengthen its weaknesses in the transfer market. For this reason, Doosan’s catchers have played for various teams so far. It is also impressive that Doosan produced three former catchers (Kim Kyung-moon, Cho Bum-hyun and Kim Tae-hyung). This is the outcome that no other team has achieved.

There has always been a good catcher on the winning team. In addition to Doosan, Kim Moo-jong and Jang Chae-geun of the Haitai Dynasty, Han Moon-yeon, who collaborated with Choi Dong-won of the Iron Arm during Lotte’s first win in 1984, Kang Sung-woo, who defended his home turf during his second win in 1992, Samsung Legend catcher Lee Man-soo, who made a name as the best offensive catcher in the early days of professional baseball with the only integrated victory without the Korean Series in 1985, Park Kyung-wan, who encompasses the Hyundai and SK dynasties, Kim Dong-soo, LG’s leading player in 1990 and 1994, Jin Gap-yong, who led the gold medal in the 2000s Samsung Dynasty and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Kang Min-ho, who followed, Yang Eui-ji, who led NC’s first win in 2020, and Jang Sung-woo, the home keeper of the KT Wiz’s first win in 2021.

When LG Electronics rose to the top again for the third time in 29 years in the 2023 season, catcher Park Dong-won’s decisive performance including two-run shot in two consecutive Korean Series and three reversal games served as a game changer. He was recognized as the “winning helper” by manager Yeom Kyung-yeop, who received the honor of winning his first championship.

When Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop took the helm at the end of 2022, the first thing he asked the team to strengthen his capability was to bring FA catcher Yang Eui-ji back to his parents’ home. The decision was made because he understood the importance of catchers very well. At the time, Doosan’s Park Se-hyuk traded places with Yang Eui-ji to NC in the FA market, which was overflowing with catchers, and Yoo Kang-nam, who had been guarding LG’s home turf, signed a contract with Lotte, and Park Dong-won flew to LG in search of a new nest from KIA. LG’s first win in 29 years was the butterfly effect produced by catcher Dae Dong-dong.

SSG has “winning catcher” Kim Min-sik and Lee Ji-young at once, but the reality is that it cannot avoid being evaluated as weak compared to the aforementioned legendary catchers. Still, if Kim Min-sik and Lee Ji-young do their part, they can challenge for the top again by bringing the same synergy as they did in winning in 2022. In 2022, Lee Jae-won played 105 games, and Kim Min-sik, who returned to his home after five years through a trade in May of that year, played 104 games to win the championship.


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