Gwak Bin (24) and Jung Cheol-won (24, Doosan Bears) are heading to the world stage with the fastball they showed in 2022.

Kwak Bin and Jung Cheol-won were named to the final roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) announced on the 4th. The two players were the ones who improved the most in the Doosan squad this season. Kwak Bin, who went through long rehabilitation training after joining the pro, became a first-team starting pitcher only in 2021. Until last year, Jeong Cheol-won had no first-team records.

Those two players made it to the national team. Kwak Bin, who played the first regular innings in his debut last year, showed particularly outstanding performance in the second half. During this period, he had just 2.01 walks per 9 innings (11th) while posting an earned run average of 2.98. Considering he recorded 7.21 walks per 9 innings last season, this is a remarkable change.

The number of runs decreased and his control improved, but he gained strength. Kwak Bin recorded an average speed of 146.8 km per hour in the 2022 season, but it was faster at 149 km per hour in the second half. His pitch improved as he lowered his arm angle, which he raised in 2021 to speak forkball, to a more comfortable angle last season. On September 14 last year, the fastball recorded against the LG Twins in Jamsil reached a maximum speed of 155 km.

The same goes for Jeong Cheol-won. Having no first-team career at all, it was thanks to his quick ball that he was appointed to the first-team winning group last year. He recorded an average speed of 148.8 km per hour in the 2022 fastball season. He is ranked third among domestic pitchers (based on over 500 pitches). He recorded a season average ERA of 3.10 and a new record for the most holds (23) in a debut season, and also became the rookie of the year.

Even through his first full season, his stamina was strong. Jung Cheol-won, like his friend Kwak Bin, threw a faster ball in the second half of the 2022 season. His average speed reached 149.5 km per hour. He played multiple innings in 27 of 58 games, but he did his part tirelessly until the end of the season.

A fast ball is considered a must-have weapon on the international stage. While playing in the Major League (MLB) and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), you have to deal with batters who are used to fast balls. It is good to win the ball with a breaking ball, but there is always a situation where you have to control the batter with force. Kwak Bin and Jeong Cheol-won’s careers are a bit behind compared to other national team pitchers, but they can show the ‘restraint competitiveness’ needed on the international stage.

In an interview with Ilgan Sports right after the list was announced, Kwak Bin said, “I am so honored to be selected on such a big stage. I want to tell myself that I have overcome the past 3 years of rehabilitation training well. I will go and build my body so that I can do well, and I will prepare hard. Please watch,” he said. Jeong Cheol-won said, “I think director Lee Kang-cheol took good care of it. He was new to the national team, but he had the experience of wearing the Taegeuk mark on his left shoulder while in the army for a year and a half,” he joked.

When asked which player he would like to face, Gwakbin picked Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels), whom he had chosen as his idol. On the other hand, Jeong Cheol-won said, “I will throw with all my might no matter who I face. I will strike out no matter what batter I meet.”

The two, who are the same age, have a special presence. Regarding his friend Jeong Cheol-won, who was competing for the Rookie of the Year last season, Kwak Bin said, “Cheol-won is a different pitcher from me. He is at least two levels higher than me.” In an interview after the season, Jung Cheol-won also said, “Bin’s existence was a great source of strength. I am a pitcher who is more lacking than Bin,” he said.

Kwak Bin said, “I’m so happy that I can’t express it in words to go to the WBC with Cheorwon. I will go well without getting hurt.” Jeong Cheol-won also said, “Last season, I was able to keep a lot of victories in the game where Bin started. If Bin-yi comes out as a starter in the WBC, he will do his best with the mindset that he will definitely take care of the victory.”토토

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