Kim Won-joong, who throws coolly, looks really cool.”
In the rookie draft, there was a time when the Lotte Giants preferred large players, especially pitchers with good physical conditions, to match the team name of ‘Giant’. Both Kim Won-joong and Kim Do-gyu, who are currently active in the first team, were picks that considered their potential and physical condition. I used to bet on players close to the original stone.
Right-handed pitcher Lee Jin-ha (19) from Jangchung High School, who was selected in the second round of the 2023 rookie draft, is also a great pitcher. Lee Jin-ha, who is 190cm and 95kg tall, is an ace of Jangchung High School. He recorded 25⅔ innings, 4 wins, 1 loss, 0.69 earned run average, 37 strikeouts, and 5 walks in 11 games in his third season of high school last year. His mid-to-late 140km fastball, splitter, and slider are powerful. He has been on an elite course, including being selected for the WBSC U-18 World Cup squad.
He emphasized his strength, “My strength is to play fast without dodging. So I throw with confidence. I tried to throw both fastballs and breaking balls to the desired course as much as possible, so I got good results.”
Although his pace slowed last year due to back and hamstring injuries, he showed his qualifications for the top round nomination. Lee Jin-ha said of her current physical condition, “My injury has improved a lot now. I focused on physical exercise throughout the winter. Now I am throwing the ball while continuing to increase the distance of the catch ball.”
He could have been nominated in the first round. There may be regrets about the ranking of nominations. But the regret was quickly forgotten. He attributed the reason for being nominated late to himself. He said, “If it is late, it is too late. I was called late because I was sick. Later, I became impatient and because of the greed to continue the game, I think I lost all my strengths such as control and speed.”
His father is a baseball fanatic. In this family environment, he grew up to be an ace-level player with potential and was even nominated as a pro. He explained, “My father said that he saw seniors Seon Dong-yeol and late Choi Dong-won when they were in active service. I think I watched a lot of baseball while talking with my father. When I was young, I also watched baseball while watching it.”
When he was in the 6th grade of elementary school, he started playing baseball in earnest, and he mainly watched the outfield until the 1st year of middle school. When he entered the second year of middle school, he completely switched to pitching. When he was playing as a fielder, he was a fan of fast hitters such as Ko Jong-wook (now KIA) and Seo Geon-chang (now LG) of Nexen (now Kiwoom). 안전놀이터
And he was also attracted to Lotte’s closer Kim Won-joong. He said, “I liked the way senior Kim Won-joong threw. There was not much difference between the previous form and the current form, and I thought that the way he threw coolly was cool. He was also handsome.”
Like Kim Won-joong, who is currently serving as a closer, Lee Jin-ha mainly pitched as a relief pitcher during his school days. He said, “During my school days, I pitched a lot in situations where there were runners. That’s why I’m used to the position of reliever,” he said.
The goal of Lee Jin-ha, who is training at the rookie camp at Sangdong Stadium in Gimhae, is to eventually climb the mound at Sajik Stadium. He said, “I think I need to adapt because there is a difference between the professional and amateur zones. Also, in high school, I only threw up to 60 pitches. After 60 pitches, my strength used to drop. If you do it, the tempo seems to get faster, so I’m practicing the tempo.”
He continued, “I will become a pitcher who concentrates on throwing each ball so that when I step on the Lotte mound, the fans will think, ‘Now this game has been won’.”