Hanwha left-hander Kim Bum-soo, 29, and Doosan right-hander Lee Young-ha, 27, are headed to Japan side by side. They will prepare for the new season with joint training sessions with pitchers from the Yomiuri Giants, one of the most prestigious teams in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Kim Bum-soo and Lee Young-ha are scheduled to depart for Miyazaki, Japan, on March 3 and train at the Yomiuri club’s facility for a total of 17 days. They will train with Yomiuri pitchers, including Togo Shosei (24), who became a member of Japan’s winning World Baseball Classic (WBC) team last year as Yomiuri’s ace.
It all started a year ago when Lee told his agent, Chung Chang-yong of Team Futures, that he wanted to play in Japan. Chung, who had served as an interpreter for Doosan’s Lee Seung-yeop and Lee Dae-ho when they were playing in Japan, had extensive contacts in the country, so he looked into teams where they could train and found Yomiuri, one of the most storied.
Kim Bum-soo, also from the same agency, asked Chang-yong to visit Japan. Kim, who has always been interested in Japanese baseball and loves Yomiuri, didn’t want to miss the opportunity to train with Japanese pitchers. Despite their different teams, Kim Bum-soo and Lee Young-ha joined forces to improve their baseball skills as members of the same agency.
Their training location is Miyazaki Camp, which Yomiuri uses every fall and spring.
The training facilities and environment are well-equipped, including an indoor practice field with a dome. Above all, we are looking forward to the opportunity to see, learn, and absorb the training methods, routines, and know-how of Japanese pitchers who are one step ahead of us.
In particular, right-hander Togo, who made his first-team debut in 2019, is a hard-throwing pitcher with a forkball that can reach up to 154 kilometers per hour on a double. In five seasons in the first team, he has a 43-27 record in 96 games (609⅔ innings) with a 2.98 ERA and 550 strikeouts. The Yomiuri Aces have won 12 games in back-to-back years and led the Central League in strikeouts (154) in 2022, 안전놀이터 earning a spot on the WBC team. He pitched in two games at the WBC, both complete games, allowing one run in five innings with nine strikeouts. In the final game against the United States, he struck out Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) on a wild pitch and pitched two scoreless innings to help Japan win the title. He continued his dominance last year, going 12-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 24 games (170 innings).
“I’ve played scrimmages with Japanese teams in camps, but I’ve never trained with them. “There are a lot of training methods and data on American baseball these days. I want to see how they work out, how they throw 150 kilometers easily and how they have good ball rotation efficiency. I also want to learn about falling pitches like forkballs and changeups,” he said. “He’s a pitcher who won 17 games when Doosan was at its best, so I’m sure there’s something I can learn from him.”
Kim Bum-soo, a left-handed hard-throwing pitcher who joined Hanwha as a first-round pick in 2015
He has a 25-46 record with a 5.48 ERA in 369 games (34 starts-456⅔ innings) over nine seasons. The left-hander had the fastest average fastball velocity in the KBO last year (147.3 kilometers) and has consistently trended upward every year. In 2022, he appeared in a league-high 78 games and recorded a franchise-record 27 saves in a single season, and last year he was a stalwart of the Hanwha bullpen with a 5-5 record, one save, and a 4.19 ERA in 76 games (62⅓ innings). This year, in his 10th year as a professional, he is looking to take a bigger leap forward.
A first-round pick of Doosan in 2016, Lee has compiled a 51-38 record, seven saves, and a 4.85 ERA in 223 games (97 starts, 670⅓ innings) over seven seasons since making his first-team debut in 2017. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder’s fastball and slider helped fuel the Doosan dynasty with 10 wins in 2018 and 17 in 2019, but his career has faltered in the aftermath of a court battle during the 2022 season in which he was accused of committing school violence. He struggled last year with a 5-3 record and a 5.49 ERA in 36 games (39⅓ innings), but his fastball averages 147.5 mph. He’s determined to get back into the starting rotation and will be looking for signs of a rebound in the Japanese camp.