There are only two Lotte WBC draftees, but… much better than the humiliation of ‘Pitcher 0’ in 2017
Although not many players were selected for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). However, the Lotte Giants washed away the humiliation of the previous tournament and made the two key players in the pitching team national team.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) held a press conference on the 4th and announced a list of 30 players to compete in the WBC to be held in March. LG Twins produced 6 players as the national team, followed by KT Wiz with 4 players.
In this tournament, Lotte sent two right-handed pitchers, Kim Won-jung (30) and Park Se-woong (28), to the national team. It is better than the Hanwha Eagles, where no one was selected, or the Samsung Lions, where only one player, Won Tae-in (23), was selected, but the number is still small.
Maybe it has to be natural. Lotte has failed to advance to the postseason for five consecutive years since 2018. Last year, it was only 8th with 64 wins, 76 losses and 4 draws (0.457 win rate). Even Lee Dae-ho (41), a regular member of the national team, ended his playing career at the end of last season.
However, it is positive that both Kim Won-joong and Park Se-woong, who are wearing the Taegeuk mark this time, are pitchers. This is because they couldn’t send a single pitcher to the tournament five years ago.
In the first three WBCs, starting with the first tournament in 2006, Lotte sent one pitcher to the national team. In 2006 and 2009, Min-Han Son (48) was selected, and in 2013, Seung-Jun Song 토토 (43), Dae-Hyun Jeong (45), and Won-Jun Jang (38, now Doosan), who was serving military service in the police baseball team, participated.
They performed their role faithfully in the competition. Son Min-han played well against the United States in the first tournament and achieved the legend of the semifinals. In the 2013 tournament, Song Seung-jun started as a starting pitcher against Australia and Jang Won-jun against Taiwan.
However, none of the pitchers were selected for the 2017 tournament. It was not comforting that Jang Si-hwan (36, now Hanwha) was traded to Lotte within a month after participating in the tournament. It was compared to the selection of Lee Dae-ho and Son A-seop (35, current NC) from field camp.
Kim Won-joong and Park Se-woong, who played for Lotte in 2017 but failed to rise to the national team level, have achieved remarkable growth in recent seasons. Kim Won-joong, who joined as the 5th overall pick in 2012 but did not hold his place for 7 years, turned into a closer in 2020 and showed his potential. In 2021, he made 35 saves, ranking second in the category.
Park Se-woong also became a high-level starting pitcher in earnest with 12 wins in 2017. Afterwards, he was shaken by injuries and sluggishness, but starting in 2020, he passed the regular innings for three consecutive years. In particular, in 2021 and 2022, he achieved 10 wins for two consecutive years, establishing himself as Lotte’s native ace.
Although they did not have outstanding results and were not young, Kim Won-joong and Park Se-woong were named to the WBC national team for the first time after a long wait. In particular, unlike Park Se-woong, who participated in the 2017 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kim Won-joong was selected for the first team.
This is the third Taegeuk mark, Park Se-woong, who is selected as a wild card for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games to be held in September and has to receive special military service. To that end, his performance at the WBC is more important than ever.