The pitching bias is real. There’s still a chance that all 10 first-rounders could be pitchers. That’s not to say there aren’t any beasts. That’s especially true when you look back at the struggles of some of the most prominent pitchers in the 29-day Golden Lion. Here are the beasts to watch for in the upcoming 2024 First-Year Player Draft, based on scouts’ ratings.
The top two picks at the top of the first round are solid. Masan Yongmago’s Jang Hyun-seok and Jang Chung-go’s Hwang Jun-seo will be the first and second overall picks, barring any upsets. After them, names like Cho Dae-hyun from Gangneung, Kim Taek-yeon from Incheon, Yuk Sun-yeop from Jangchung, and Kim Hui-gun from Whimun could be called. With more than 15 pitchers who have thrown 150 kilometres, this draft will be a bumper crop of pitchers.
Still, it’s possible to hear the name of a beast in the second round. Gyeonggi State catcher Lee Sang-jun, who has been making waves since his freshman year, seemed to have a first-round pick locked up until last year, when he was a sophomore. With a solid frame and power-hitting talent, Lee hit .361 with two home runs as a freshman. As a sophomore, he hit .314 with two home runs. However, as a junior this year, he faltered, hitting .259 with one home run in seven games.메이저놀이터
An A’s scout said, “Sometimes players struggle in their third year. I think there’s a lot of pressure on them because it’s the time when their professional designation is decided, and they may try to do too much and end up not doing well. However, Lee Sang-joon should still be considered one of the best outfielders this year.”
Among the infielders, Park Ji-hwan of Segadoo and Lee Jae-sang of Seongnam are in the spotlight.
Utah right-hander Park Ji-hwan has been hot at the plate this year, batting .500 with a 1.471 OPS in 13 games. A team A scout said of Park, “He’s one of those players who is getting better and better. He sees the ball well and hits it well. He may lack a little bit of long ball power, but he has good movement and shoulders in defence.”
The key will be his position in the pros. If he can play shortstop in the pros, his evaluation will go up significantly. This is where Park is still a question mark. A B team scout said, “I’m not sure about a professional shortstop. However, his recent growth and offence are very complete. If a team needs an infielder, I think he would be the first one to think of.”
Right-hander Lee Jae-sang has appeared in 11 games this year, batting .368 with a 1.099 OPS. He doubles as a pitcher and throws in the high 140s. He has a strong shoulder, which is definitely a plus for his delivery. That”s why some people rate Lee Jae-sang higher than Park Ji-hwan when it comes to defence.
A team A scout said, “His defence is really good. However, if there is a player who can play shortstop in the pros, I think it would be him.” A scout from Team B said, “He can be expected to be a professional level shortstop because of his shoulders. Park Ji-hwan and Lee Jae-sang have different characteristics, so we should pay attention to both of them.”
In terms of hitting potential alone, it’s hard to miss Whimungo outfielder Lee Seung-min. The son of Samsung head coach Lee Byung-gyu, Lee is a left-handed power hitter who has inherited his father’s good hardware. He’s batting .375 with a 1.094 OPS in nine games this year, so if you’re in need of a left-handed bat, you can’t afford to miss out.
A C’s scout said, “His body is really good. He’s growing steadily, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. He has both the hitting mechanics and hardware to make it in the professional ranks.” Although he started playing baseball in the sixth grade of elementary school, he had a steep growth curve in high school, which could continue in the pros.
Among this year’s rookie class, Lotte’s Kim Min-seok was the first to stand out. In last year’s 2023 draft, Lotte hesitantly invested its third-round pick in Kim, who already has 30 hits. Pitchers have been quicker to adjust to the professional stage than batters, but it’s the latter who make an impact on the game every day.
That’s why teams that have been consistently stocking up on pitching prospects and have a pitcher on target in the first round of the 2024 Draft are likely to turn to a beast in the second round. It will also be interesting to see if Kiwoom, who has five picks in the third round, chooses to go with a pitcher.
They include Deoksugo outfielder Baek Jun-seo, Whimun shortstop Ahn Woo-jin and second baseman Jung Ahn-seok, Kyungpook National University infielder Lim Jong-sung, and Incheon National University infielder Kim Hyun-jong. Seoul High infielder Yeo Dong-gun is considered a top round pick.