Kiwoom Heroes’ Jang Jae-young, 21, is establishing himself as a mainstay starter.

Jang Jae-young joined Kiwoom as the first overall pick in the 2021 Rookie Draft and was a highly touted, mega-prospect. With a fastball that can reach over 150 kilometers per hour, he attracted attention even before he was drafted and broke the KBO’s all-time record for the second-largest rookie contract and the first-largest in club history (900 million won).

However, the barriers to the professional stage were high. Jang struggled with his pitches, going 1-0 with a 9.17 ERA in 19 games 메이저사이트(17⅔ innings) in his debut season. He had high hopes for last season, but was disappointing with a 7.71 ERA in 14 games (14 innings).

Despite his second consecutive underwhelming season, the expectations for Jang Jae-young have not faded. He earned a spot in the five-man roster this season after going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three games (nine innings) in exhibition play. However, he struggled in the first two games, giving up nine runs on eight hits and 10 walks with six strikeouts in 6⅓ innings, and was eventually sent down to the second team.

After making adjustments in the second team and being called back up to the first team to fill in the gaps when Kiwoom began resting its starters in June, Jang began to look much different. Since his return, he has gone 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 14 games (48 innings) and has begun to show signs of competitiveness as a starter. He earned his first win against NC on May 5 (5⅓ scoreless innings) and followed it up with back-to-back quality starts against LG Electronics on May 11 (6 innings, 3 runs) and KIA on May 17 (6 innings, 3 runs).

Jang Jae-young of the Kiwoom Heroes. /OSEN DB

Jang Jae-young’s transformation has been aided by his baseball seniors. Before the game against Lotte at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 18, Jang met with Yang Sang-moon, who was calling the game. Jang sought advice from Yang, who held a baseball and showed him his grip, among other things.

“When he commentated on the games I pitched, he said a lot of good things and gave me a lot of feedback on the mechanics of pitching,” Jang said. “I improved after hearing those tips. Since he was a pitcher, I asked him to help me once. Originally, we were supposed to meet in my room, but I didn’t get to say hello because I was pitching that day, so he gave me a lot of advice today,” Jang said.

“What I’m curious about is your impatient style. I think my seniors will like it if I ask them questions, and I don’t think they will dislike it.” Jang Jae-young laughed and said, “I try to learn a lot from my seniors who are pitchers, such as commentator Jung Min-cheol. I also ask a lot about the mental part.”

Jang Jae-young of Kiwoom Heroes. /OSEN DB

Jang Jae-young said, “Actually, I’ve heard so much advice that it might be my disadvantage, but I’m trying to make only what I can make my own. The one thing they all had in common was that my head turns when I throw, and I’ve been trying to catch that a lot, and I think I’m getting better,” he said of his most memorable advice.

Jang Jae-young said, “When I throw a ball, I have a habit of not looking at the ball when I feel like I’m throwing it wrong.” “I often see that when I’m having a bad day. Even if the ball is bad, I need to see where it goes so I can get feedback and throw the ball again, but I had a bad habit. Now, I’m trying to improve my eye contact from the time I play catch. I think it’s important to face the consequences of my throws,” he explained.

Commenting on his two consecutive quality starts, Jang Jae-young said, “When you get a quality start, you’ve done your job as a starting pitcher. In the Jamsil game, I had a lot of luck and a lot of defensive help. Against KIA, (Kim) Dong-heon caught a lot of balls, and Byung-sal-ha was also lucky. I can’t say that I’m really satisfied, but I tried to keep the game going when I gave up a lot of walks, and I think my aggressiveness paid off. I’m learning a lot,” he said. “I haven’t pitched too many innings yet, so it’s not too hard. The first inning is still the hardest. If anything, I’m getting stronger as the game goes on. I think it’s because I’m not that old yet,” he laughed.

“I’m throwing the most innings since I made my professional debut, but I’m not really satisfied,” Jang said. “I think it’s more important for me to go out there and show that I have the weapons to win the game than it is to perform right now. I’ve been pushed around, I’ve come down after not finishing an inning, I’ve been hit repeatedly, and I’ve had a lot of experiences. It was hard at the time, but I think I can handle those situations now. I don’t want to go through that again, but when I’m in a crunch, I need to be able to minimize the runs and get through it. I’m continuing to work on my mental game and how to compete with batters in crunch time,” he said, adding that he is determined to improve.

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