Jang Hyun-seok (19, Masan Yongmago), considered one of the best pitchers in high school baseball, has been named to the Asian Games baseball team. It is the first time a high school student has been selected since the 1998 Bangkok Games, when professional athletes were allowed to compete in the Asian Games. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) 스포츠토토 on Monday announced the 24-man roster for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, which begin in September. The roster is comprised of players who are 25 years old or younger or in their fourth year of professional baseball. Three wild cards (players not subject to the age limit) were also selected for players aged 29 or younger. There are 12 pitchers and 12 hitters.
Jang Hyun-seok is a right-handed pitcher who throws a fastball in the mid-to-high 100 mph range with good command, making him a prime candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s KBO Draft. He is 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA in five high school games this year. Pitchers are mostly in starting roles. Only four of the 12 pitchers are relievers, including Ko Woo-seok (25) and Jung Woo-young (24). Na Kyun-an (25), Park Se-woong (28-Wild Card), and Moon Dong-ju (20-Hanwha), the “160km Kid,” have been leading Lotte’s offense this season. The catchers are Kim Hyung-jun (24-NC) and Kim Dong-heon (19-KEUM). Both players are far from regular starters for their respective clubs and have no international experience at the adult level. It has been pointed out that by selecting a team under the age of 25, the KBO had to use one of its wild cards on a catcher because there were no catchers who could play internationally, but the KBO decided to give the young players experience.
The infield and outfield were dominated by left-handed hitters. Of the 10, only Noh Si-hwan (23-Hanwha) is a true right-handed hitter. Of the players selected, Koo Chang-mo (26-NC-Wildcard), Kwak Bin (24-Dusan), and Jang Hyun-seok are currently rehabbing from injuries. The KBO said that if these players are unable to recover before the tournament, they can be replaced by reserve players.
If the team wins a gold medal at the Asian Games, the non-military players will receive a special exemption from military service that will allow them to become part of the athletic staff. There are 19 non-military players on the 24-member squad. Lee Jung-hoo (25-KIUM) has already received special military service for his gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, while Ko Woo-seok is exempt from military service due to a history of knee injuries. Park Sung-ho (25-SSG) and Kim Hyung-jun (25-SSG) fulfilled their military obligations with the Commerce baseball team, while Choi Won-jun (26-Wildcard), who is currently with the Commerce, will be discharged in 11 days.