The KIA Tigers have a secret weapon that throws a fastball of up to 153 km. Right-handed pitcher Lee Tae-gyu (22), who is preparing for the 2023 season, is the main character.
Lee Tae-gyu, who graduated from Maehyang Middle School and Jangan High School, joined the KIA in the 30th place in the 2nd 3rd round of 2019. Despite his height of 188cm and thin physique of 67kg, he already threw a fastball with a maximum speed of 148km during his high school days, raising many expectations that he would become the KIA’s next-generation fire bowler.
However, his growth was slower. His naturally skinny body has not improved much, and he has rarely been seen on the first team stage. In the end, after joining the team, Lee Tae-gyu started military service on active duty immediately after appearing in 2 Futures games in 2019 and 11 Futures games in 2020 without appearing in the first team.
The time of perseverance was long, but it was also a fruitful time for Lee Tae-gyu. Lee Tae-gyu, who served in the 1st Mountain Brigade for Special Warfare, strengthened his stamina by climbing up and down the mountain every day, and now has gained more than 10 kg from the time he was discharged. The result of extreme efforts to eat 7 meals a day and self-management that shed blood and sweat.
Not only that, Lee Tae-gyu also improved his pitching mechanism and balance for several months through the KIA pitching training academy, and his speed increased significantly, recently recording a maximum of 153 km. It is evaluated that not only his speed, but also his ball tip and balance improved, giving him more power with the ball. His growth potential is endless.
Furthermore, Lee Tae-gyu made a mark on the first team coaching staff, including KIA coach Kim Jong-guk, through the finishing camp. If you show good results after joining the spring camp, there is a good chance that you will become a surprise reinforcement for the KIA 1st team mound next year.
Currently, he joined Geelong Korea in the Australian ABL League and is recording 1 win, 2 losses and an average ERA of 7.71 in 5 games. His performance is not particularly outstanding, but he is constantly looking for a sense of practice that has been lost due to the hiatus of the past two years by spraying the ball without hesitation in actual matches. The following is a Q&A from an interview with Lee Tae-gyu, which was conducted during last year’s wrap-up camp.
“I served in the special warfare mountain brigade and ran 5km every day.”I would like to say hello to my fans after a long time
. This is KIA Tigers Lee Tae-gyu. After being discharged from the military in 2022, I threw in 2 Futures games (zero ERA) and joined the finishing camp and am working hard. For two years before he went to the army, he didn’t seem to show anything. In 2023, I am working hard and preparing to reduce my personal greed and become a player who can climb as much as possible, so I would appreciate it if you could look forward to it.
There was a gap due to his military service. How did he spend his time during that period? He
enlisted in November 2020, entered the training center, and was later assigned to a unit that received a lot of physical training. So during his service, Yen basically did a lot of physical training and was discharged in a situation where he was physically prepared.
It was a unit that had just been created at the time of
enlistment, and it was a unit specializing in mountain warfare called the 1st Mountain Brigade for Special Warfare. My unit was on the Jeongdongjin side, and I know that there are units from Gangneung-Donghae-Samcheok. It is a unit that conducts combat training based in the Taebaek Mountains.
(According to the Army, the mountain brigade is a unit dedicated to mountain operations that reinforces the insufficient reserve forces in the eastern mountainous region and prepares for attacks by enemy special operations forces that have infiltrated into the mountainous region.)
After all, it is a special unit, but did you apply?
not. Originally, most of them came because they applied, but I didn’t apply (laughing), but maybe something went wrong, so (placed).
What kind of physical training did you do?
He rode in the mountains all the time, and the unit basically had a lot of anti-personnel combat training. Most of the executives came from special forces such as the Special Forces and 707, so I did a lot of things like running and weight training overall. Basically, I ran more than 4-5km a day every day. Since they take care of their body so diligently, I was able to do it without being lazy because I also gave them the parts that I could help with athletically. Thanks to that, I have made more than maintaining myself physically, and I was able to throw the ball immediately after returning.
What kind of time did you spend after returning to KIA
? I went through the pitching training academy for about three months with former coordinator Son Seung-rak, who is now the futures coach. Most of the other pitchers focused on throwing training, but for a month I focused on weight training while eating 7 meals a day.
Has there been any change in weight?
When I was discharged, I was about 70kg, but it went up to about 80~81kg, and when I came to the finish camp, I lost about 2~3kg, and I am maintaining around 77~78kg.
From the time he joined, he drew a lot of attention for his thin physique and quick throwing. Is your original body type skinny
? In fact, when I was in high school, I only weighed 72kg on my profile, but in reality I was thinner at around 66-68kg. It was the type that seldom gained weight.
So it’s a significant increase, but why?
Coach Son Seung-rak said, ‘The pitch itself is not bad, but the weight of the ball drops compared to the speed, so let’s maximize the advantage’ and ‘Let’s bet on speed. It’s an advantage that you can have more, but why don’t you want to have it? Let’s try to increase the amount as much as possible,’ he said. So, when he increased his weight to 80kg, he definitely got stronger than the original ball.
Is the increase in weight helpful in terms of balance?
Balance and pitching points are thrown the same. When I throw with force, there are parts of the ball that float because there is no weight on the ball, but I feel like I can catch it. Even when going out on a stride or stepping on the ground, it seems that the power is transmitted better because the axis has power.
Is there any aspect that has helped in terms of ball rotation or physical strength?
Looking at the number of pitching revolutions (RPM), there is no significant change, but the part where the ball rides and flies has improved. Also, when the number of pitches increased after increasing weight, I think I was able to throw 15 to 20 more balls. 바카라사이트
What was the biggest goal at the KIA Training Academy
? Director Son Seung-rak always emphasized something to us. I didn’t touch the form, but I always decided to pitch with the method and direction of using power. I was able to use my strength in the front and lower it down, and I practiced a lot of matching the tempo of pitching and gathering the forces that were out of my form into one place. Also, in the training part of the training academy, I tried to do a lot of training in the exercise mechanics part with Dong-Hoo Kim, the strength & conditioning (SC) coach.
(KIA SC coach Kim Dong-hoo is a coach with various SC coaching know-how, such as the national rugby team, managing director, and personal trainer for LPGA players.)
What was the mechanics like
? Coach Son asked Coach Dong-hoo Kim to make a drill similar to pitching motion did So Coach Kim studied mechanics and made training similar to baseball movements. You can think of it as training such as weight training that is helpful for pitching motion rather than simply heavy weight.
Has the pitching mechanism improved a lot?
He gave us a lot of directions and details. I still have a lot to learn, so I think I need to learn a lot and ask questions to futures coach Son Seung-rak and the coaching staff, as well as to the first team coaching staff.
Starting in 2022, KIA introduced video-based tracking equipment’Hawkeyi’ to significantly strengthen data-based power analysis. It is a tracking device that uses a high-resolution camera installed in the stadium to detect and convert all situations in the stadium into data.
It is a device that provides various information such as players’ dynamic information, pitching information, batting trajectory, and defensive indicators as data. Major League Baseball (MLB) has installed Hawkeye in 30 ballparks since 2020 and is using it as an official tracking platform.
Based on such tracking data, Lee Tae-gyu is attracting attention as an expected player who has benefited from the academy, where former power reinforcement coordinator Son Seung-rak, strength & conditioning (SC) coach, and psychological advisors started intensive training together.
The story of Lee Tae-gyu’s pitching, physical condition, and goals for the year after the season is over will be continued in the second part of the interview.