“Next year, and the year after that, it’s going to be hard.”
A rookie season is a satisfying one. But he was not satisfied with that.
Yoon Young-chul (19) was selected by the KIA Tigers in the first round of the 2023 KBO Rookie Draft. He entered the professional ranks as the top high school left-hander at the time, but he didn’t stand out as much as other players like Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles) and Kim Min-seok (Lotte Giants). When KIA revealed its intention to utilize Yoon in the starting rotation at the start of the new season, the chances of success were considered 50/50.
At the end of the season, Yoon’s record was 8-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 25 games and 122⅔ innings pitched. He had an injury-free full-time starting season as a rookie. Even KIA manager Kim Jong-kook was surprised, saying he “pitched much better than expected.” He’s a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, as he’s been in the rotation since his first year of professional baseball as a pure high school rookie and has posted double-digit wins.
When asked to grade himself this season, Yoon said, “50.” “Because I’m a rookie, I’m told ‘you pitched well,’ but if you look at it coldly, it’s not a great record. If it’s the same next year and the year after, it’s going to be difficult,” he said. “I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done, but I want to improve and show that I can pitch better.”
Yoon said, “Physically, it was harder than I thought. I had a lot of difficulties because it was my first year,” he said. “It was physically hard to rotate full-time. In the second half of the season, I had a lot of difficulties and my form was not good, so I often had difficult games,” he said. “In the second half of the season, I was throwing more pitches, more pitches per inning. My pitches were getting worse and worse, and most of the long balls I hit were misses,” he said soberly. “My biggest regret is my ERA. I can’t control the wins, but I could have lowered my ERA as much as possible. “There are many things I regret, such as not being able to get a three-run ERA against the Gwangju NC on June 17 (3 innings, 11 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 7 runs) or not being able to complete five innings against the Busan Lotte on August 12 (4⅔ innings, 8 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 5 runs – against Nodish). Even if I pitched well, there were always one or two things that were lacking. I don’t think I’ve ever pitched a game where I was really satisfied with my performance. I want to do better next year,” he said. “I think it means a lot that I finished the season without getting sick, and I’m satisfied with that.”먹튀검증
Yoon averages less than 140 kilometers per hour on his fastball, but his precise delivery and fluid game management have helped him earn a starting role. In the era of 160-kilometer fastballs in the KBO, Yoon’s “aesthetic of slowness” is bound to stand out.
Still, Yoon’s focus is on refining his delivery rather than his fastball. “If you keep training and throwing, it will come naturally,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on my pitches,” he said, “I’m trying to refine what I have now. I’m also using about five curves per game, but I’ll use them a lot when my pitches are more stable.”
He’s not too worried about the upcoming Rookie of the Year competition. “I don’t know,” he laughed when asked if he would win the award, “but if I do, I don’t think I need to be too discouraged. We just need to do better next year,” he emphasized. He added, “I’ve made some plans for the off-season. I want to prepare well and show that I am not tired in the second half of the season next year.”