Reporter Kwon Hyuk-joon = September 24, 2022. The 26th Korean major leaguer was born. It was the day that Bae Ji-hwan (24, Pittsburgh Pirates), who graduated from Gyeongbuk High School in 2018 and declared going to the major leagues, realized his dream.
Bae Ji-hwan, who met with News 1 on the 8th, looked back at it as “an unforgettable day.” In particular, I recalled that it was heartwarming to play his debut in front of his parents, who had come a long way at the news of his call-up.
But the thrill is only momentary. Bae Ji-hwan, who achieved ‘his first goal’ of making his major league debut, has an aspiration to run toward the next one again. He said, “I came up to the major leagues I was looking forward to, but I would like to leave my name there. I still have a long way to go.”
Although he has an optimistic personality, Bae Ji-hwan’s minor league life was not easy. He needed to adapt to everything from traveling 17 hours in a cramped and outdated bus to playing baseball with strangers in an unfamiliar environment.
Bae Ji-hwan was still positive. He smiled, saying, “Exercise is hard no matter where I am. I like to bump into each other, so I’ve adapted well to life.”
While Bae Ji-hwan refined his skills, his peers Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz) and Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom Heroes) were on the domestic stage. His steep rise in salary and high popularity were in stark contrast to his minor league career.
But Bae Ji-hwan had no regrets. He explained that it was an opportunity for him to develop his skills rather quickly.
Coming to the United States seems to have helped me to improve my skills,” he said. “In the KBO League, I encountered a lot of fastballs from foreign pitchers, who can be called ‘mercenaries’, and I knew what to do to survive on the world’s best stage. It was a lot of five years,” he said.
He also gave a mature answer, saying, “I think baseball is a long-term race like a marathon anyway. It is still too early to compare with friends in the KBO league.
Bae Ji-hwan, who was called up with an extended entry last year, played a total of 10 games. It was not a long time, but Bae Ji-hwan showed off his presence by recording 11 hits, 3 doubles, 5 runs, 6 RBIs and 3 steals in 10 games. It was a successful debut for him to look forward to next season.
Bae Ji-hwan himself said, “I think there was some kind of impact.” He said, “I gained the confidence that it was worth doing enough, and the direction to survive became firm. It was a meaningful 10 games.”
Bae Ji-hwan is a player whose greatest strength is accurate hitting and quick feet. It is difficult to expect many home runs like Choi Hee-seop, Choo Shin-soo, Kang Jung-ho, and Choi Ji-man, who had previously entered the major leagues, but he is gradually increasing his long hits starting from the minor league double-A stage.
He said, “In order to survive in the major leagues, there must be no missing part.”
Defensive ability is also a distinctive strength of Bae Ji-hwan. He mainly played shortstop and second baseman in high school, but after advancing to the United States, he learned outfield defense and developed rapidly. In the 10 games he played last year, he played 4 games as second baseman, 5 games as center fielder, and 1 game as left fielder.
He is highly utilized in the roster because he does not choose in and outfield, and even if he is not the starting pitcher right away, he is a resource that can fill vacancies anywhere, so he has many uses.
Bae Ji-hwan also said, “Because I am a young player who has not yet been verified, it is important to receive a lot of opportunities first.” said.
Bae Ji-hwan, who played with Park Hyo-joon (27, Atlanta Braves) last year, will have rice with Choi Ji-man (32), another Korean major leaguer, this year. It’s the first time they’ve been on the same team, but they’ve already met at spring camp and built a friendship. The existence of ‘veteran’ Choi Ji-hwan will be another strength to Bae Ji-hwan, who is only in his second year.
Bae Ji-hwan said, “After hearing the news that hyung was traded, I contacted him. He asked me to hold the ball well.” 메이저사이트
It is also meaningful that “super rookie” Shim Jun-seok (19) newly joined the Pittsburgh team. Shim Jun-seok follows the path Bae Ji-hwan took in the Pittsburgh Minor League this year.
Bae Ji-hwan said, “In the major leagues, there is a growing tendency to think of overseas players as their full strength, and I feel proud that I may have contributed even a little to the arrival of (Sim) Jun-seok.” I believe in you, but if there is anything I can help you with in your life in the US, I would like you to ask me anytime.”
The first goal of Bae Ji-hwan, who has just entered the big leagues, is ‘survival’. He must remain in the major league roster, compete endlessly, earn a starting spot, and establish himself.
He said, “Some say that Pittsburgh is a rebuilding team, so it is advantageous to young players, but it is not necessarily true.” “he said.
If there is a next goal, it is ‘national representative’. Although he was not invited to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to be held next month, he hopes to someday wear the Taegeuk mark and participate in international competitions.
Bae Ji-hwan smiled, saying, “If I stay abroad for a long time, my patriotism and pride grow.”