One of the strengths of the Korean national team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is the proper harmony of old and new. Veterans with rich experience in international competitions and young players who will take on Korean baseball in the future form a ‘one team’.
The WBC aims for the same status as the FIFA World Cup along with the globalization of baseball, but it is evaluated that there are still many things to be desired. However, compared to the Asian Games, Olympics, and Premier 12, there is no doubt that it is the highest level of baseball international competitions. It is a good opportunity to gauge the level of current and future Korean baseball as young players who do not have much experience as an adult national team will perform in the WBC.
One of the players making his debut as an adult national team member through the WBC is So-Jun Sohn, a right-hander who has been in his 4th year as a pro at kt Wiz. In 2019, when he was in his third year at Yushin High School, Joon Sohn took the ace of the national team at the World Youth Baseball Championship held in Gijang, Busan, and started against Sookmyung’s Japan match.
Japan selected Roki Sasaki, a promising fastball player, as the starting pitcher. Joon Sohn pitched well with 2 runs in 6.2 innings and laid the foundation for victory. Korea defeated Japan 5-4 after a bloody battle in the 10th overtime with a sacrifice fly by Park Min (now Sangmu).
Joon Sohn, who joined kt as the first nomination in 2020 and debuted as a pro, earned a total of 33 wins over three years. In 2020, he won the rookie of the year with a 13-6 record, an earned run average of 3.86, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.691. In 2021, he was somewhat sluggish in the regular season, but contributed to kt wiz’s first integrated victory by winning a starter in the Korean Series.
Last year, Joon Sohn recorded 13 wins, 6 losses, an ERA of 3.05, and an OPS of 0.614, the best detailed indicators since his professional debut. His pitches were very stable, as evidenced by his WHIP of 1.15, which represents average on-base per innings. The WAR (based on the Kaby Report), which represents the contribution to victory compared to substitute players, was a career high at 4.35.
Born in 2001 and last year at the age of 21, Joon Sohn is called a ‘complete pitcher’. He has a poker face that does not change his expression on the mound even at a not very old age. He also stands out for his ability to manage the game with sharp command. He is differentiated from many young pitchers who undoubtedly show weaknesses in his command or game management ability. 바카라
So Joon So’s role in the WBC is interesting. Among Korean pitchers, the type that prevailed in international competitions was either a left-handed pitcher or a right-handed pitcher with an overwhelming fastball. However, So-jun Sohn’s average fastball speed was 141.9 km/h last year, lower than the average of 144.2 km/h in the KBO League. This is the reason why some predict that Joon Sohn may not have a chance to pitch in an important game such as the match against Japan.
Instead, So-Jun Sohn is likely to start against a team with relatively less sophisticated hitters. However, depending on the overall mound situation of the national team, So Joon So-jun could play a crucial role in a decisive game. Attention is focusing on whether So Joon Sohn will take the lead in the national team’s WBC quarterfinals and establish himself as the ace of Korean baseball.