The size is distracting. Still, he is 20 years younger than his high school graduation. He looks young. He is always young in ordinary clothes.

Talking about baseball, however, I felt like a 20-year veteran. So there is a player who gave the impression that he could succeed even bigger in the future. It is Kim Dong-heon, catcher of Kiwoom Heroes.

Wasn’t 2023 a magical year for Kim Dong-heon? He graduated from Chungam High School and joined Kiwoom. Although he was also the top 12th pick in the second round, Kiwoom judged that Kim Dong-heon was a talented player to grow into a big catcher to lead the league. It gave him many opportunities. He played 102 games in his debut season and effectively served as a starting player. He made the Hangzhou Asian Games team with that momentum. He wasn’t a starting player, but he won a gold medal.

Nothing has been confirmed yet, but in this atmosphere, Kiwoom’s main catcher this season is Kim Dong-heon. People around him predict that he has potential and that he will meet the team well and walk a solid path. Some say that he is a player who can play as an FA three times like Kang Min-ho (Samsung) since he received military service benefits early.

People may be flattered at a young age. However, Kim Dong-heon is one of the players who always comes to work at Gocheok Sky Dome during the off-season. It’s the end or the beginning of the year when he wants to play for a long time, and Kim said, “I’m definitely doing it because I’m a professional player. I really want to play baseball well. I’m a player who is greedy.”

Reflecting on the past season, Kim said, “My first goal was to enter the opening entry. I achieved that. After that, I decided to play as a substitute. The number of games that I play as a starting pitcher increased as well. I tried hard to secure the opportunity. I was so grateful that the club trusted me and gave me the opportunity. I regret my performance, but I am satisfied with my experience as a first-year player. I have learned a lot.”

What was Kim’s impression of the difference between amateur and professional baseball players? “It was not easy at bat. I loved the finishing pitches after the 2S game. I was overwhelmed at first by the atmosphere as I had many fans. However, once I gain experience, I think I will be able to adapt to this situation and my baseball skills will improve further,” Kim said.

Kim had a clear picture of his future. He wanted to become a catcher who could hit a home run. “When I was young, I always said I liked a catcher who was good at defense. However, defense is the basics, and I think a catcher who hits long balls is attractive. It’s more about home runs than batting average. Just like Kang Min-ho, Yang Eui-ji (Doosan), and Park Dong-won (LG),” he said. “When I joined the pro league and wore a mask, I felt very threatening when my catchers hit big balls. I felt a lot of pressure not to be crowded.”

Speaking of ‘chaebol catcher’ Kang Min-ho, I asked if he had any greed for FA No. 3. Kim Dong-heon said, “People around me already say that. But I don’t think I’m thinking about that after running for a year now. However, I think that’s because Kang Min-ho also took the opportunity when the opportunity came. If you sincerely devote yourself to the team, I think the result will naturally follow. Of course, if you are not greedy, it would be a lie,” he said with a smile. “The game was against Samsung right after I came back from the Asian Games, and Kang Min-ho called me separately and said congratulations. I was grateful,” he introduced the behind-the-scenes story.

Kim Dong-heon also showed his seriousness as a catcher. Lastly, regarding the upcoming robot referee and pitch clock, which will change in the new season, Kim said, “Judgment is made by robots, and I have to focus on my job. There are many rumors about framing, but if the catcher does not do it, pitchers may feel nervous and suspect their pitching power. We also need to pay more attention to checking runners and stopping stolen bases. The number of checks on pitchers will be limited, and runners will likely try a lot to steal bases in the aftermath of pitch clock. I am training hard with this in mind.” 스포츠토토

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