I threw my tongue while watching the ‘National University Catcher’ training…’No. 25′ Kim Hyung-joon vowed, “Until the end this year without any injuries.”
There were also rehabilitation, unexpected injuries, and dramatic reversals. The year 2023 for catcher Kim Hyung-joon (NC Dinos) was literally eventful.
Kim Hyung-joon, a graduate of Segwang Middle School and Sehwa High School, joined NC as the ninth overall pick in the second round of the first round in 2018. Since his first year, he has played in 60 games in the first division and has played 55 and 44 games in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Yang Eui-ji (currently Doosan Bears) was already the starting catcher, and Kim Tae-gun (currently KIA Tigers) supported Yang Eui-ji. From Kim Hyung-joon’s point of view, he did not have many opportunities. Eventually, he decided to join the military in Sangmu (National Army Sports Unit) after the 2020 season, leaving his post for a while.
Kim Hyung-joon, who showed off a good batting performance in the Futures League, was put on the operating table due to ruptured anterior cruciate ligament about three weeks before his discharge. He meant that he could not play the rest of the season even if he returned to his team. Eventually, Kim had to focus only on rehabilitation, looking forward to 2023.
Neither the NC Dinos nor Kim Hyung-joon rushed. They made plans to build their bodies step by step and then join the main league. Although his rehabilitation speed was not slow, NC manager Kang In-kwon expressed his intention not to hire Kim Hyung-joon by force in the first half of the year.
Then, a problem arose. An unexpected injury came to him. While in the second tier, Kim was diagnosed with ligament damage in his right ankle when he stepped on the ball incorrectly during practice, and eventually, he could not play for more than a month. Not only his team but also the national team, which was preparing for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, is on alert.
However, Kim did not give in and focused on rehabilitation once again. He enhanced his sense of play in the Futures League from early July, and was called up to the first team for the first time since he was discharged from the military on Aug. 23. NC had high expectations for Kim as the first team catcher was not in a good condition at the time, including an injury to its main catcher Park Se-hyuk.
It was an away game against SSG Landers on Aug. 24 that Kim Hyung-joon ended his waiting period. He made a strong debut against SSG starter Kirk McCarty by hitting consecutive homeruns in the top of the fifth inning and the top of the eighth inning. NC was pleased to see Kim join, as existing catchers were struggling due to sluggishness or injury.
Kim Hyung-joon, who quickly settled down in the team, participated in the Hangzhou Asian Games and perfectly played the role of the starting catcher for the national team. His personal performance was sluggish with three hits in 18 at-bats for five games with a batting average of 0.167 and three points, but Kim Hyung-joon was said to have kept his home ground in a stable manner. 마카오토토도메인
Kim returned to his team in good performance, and he took up a huge portion of his team through the rest of the season and the fall baseball that followed. In the postseason, he beat out existing catchers such as Park Se-hyuk and Ahn Jung-yeol to play as the main players in all games. In the wild-card game and the first semi-playoff game, he also led his team to victory with cool home runs.