It was mid-February last year. Kiwoom Lee Ju-hyung, 23, was on his last vacation before his military discharge from LG and was interviewed at LG Champions Park in Icheon. We talked about getting in shape after his discharge, playing in the Futures League, and breaking into the first team.
A year later, we caught up with Lee at Kiwoom’s spring training camp at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, on February 2 (KST).
A lot has changed for Lee in the past year. He’s no longer an LG player, but a Kiwoom player. He was once a second-team prospect for LG, but now he’s an established starter for Kiwoom.
Lee switched teams last July in a big trade between Kiwoom and LG. LG, which needed starting pitching to win the championship, 안전놀이터 took Kiwoom pitcher Choi Won-tae and sent Lee Joo-hyung, rookie pitcher Kim Dong-gyu, and a first-round pick in the 2024 draft to Kiwoom.
It was a big turning point in Lee’s baseball career.
After receiving little first-team playing time in the deeply loaded LG, Lee was traded to Kiwoom, where he received more playing time and showed off his hitting talent. This year, he received a 100 percent increase in his contract, but Lee said of his performance last year, “It was about 70 points. 60 of them were lucky,” he soberly assessed last year.
For Lee, this is his first overseas camp since his debut. He said, “I came into the starting lineup in mid-January and built up my body well. I was jetlagged, so I had a hard time taking a nap for the first three or four days.” “The weather is good, and it’s nice to be in an environment where you can only play baseball. We train at night in the dormitory…I think it’s similar to Icheon where we can only play baseball,” he laughed.
Commenting on the dramatic changes over the past year,
Lee said, “There are a lot of regrets, but I was able to keep playing because the results followed me. I think I played the best baseball I could play. (In LG), I was shrinking every time I came up to the first team, so there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, but (in Kiwoom) the results were good and I showed better than before. However, due to injuries, I couldn’t show much in the field and defense, which is unfortunate,” he said.
“The fact that I played so few games (51 in Kiwoom) and then got injured, it made me think about how to manage my injuries when I have to play a 144-game full-time season this year. I think it was a very important season for me because it gave me a clear direction and goal of what to do based on my experience,” he said, looking back on last year.
Lee’s attitude of preparing by thinking about what was lacking before what was good stood out. That’s why, if he had to rate himself last year, he would say, “I think it’s about 70 points. Moreover, I think 60 points were due to good luck, and 10 points were due to my good preparation.
The 30 points that were lacking were due to my poor body management,” he soberly assessed.
Lee’s talent was recognized when he was selected by LG in the second round (13th overall) of the 2020 rookie draft. Since joining the organization, Lee has played mostly in the second team, and has hit .325 in the Futures League since his rookie year.
In 2020, he batted 3-for-5 with a 1.099 OPS in 87 at-bats and 31 RBIs. In 2021, he batted 3-for-3 with a 970 OPS in 130 at-bats and 43 RBIs. He made his first team debut during the 2021 season, batting 1-for-2 in 14 games before being called up to active duty in August of that year.
In his limited first-team opportunities, he didn’t really show what he could do. He made his first-team debut during the 2021 season, batting 1-for-2 in 14 games before joining the army for active duty in August of that year. 안전한 파워볼사이트 After being discharged from the military in February of last year, Lee played 32 games in the first team for LG, batting 1-for-9 with two RBIs.
After the trade, Lee played every game in the starting lineup for Kiwoom. Once he was guaranteed a regular spot in the lineup and not just a one-game pinch-hitter, Lee’s bat was fierce.
In 51 games in a Kiwoom uniform, he batted .911 with six doubles, six home runs, 34 RBIs, 30 runs scored, three stolen bases, and an OPS of .911.
Having established himself as the main outfielder, Lee received a 100 percent increase in salary. He signed a contract for 66 million won this year, up from 33 million won last year. It was the highest salary increase in the Kiwoom squad.