“The white tiger comes to life, and so does the spearhead….” There’s some good news for the Korean baseball team in its quest for gold at the Asian Games. First, there are signs that Kang Baek-ho (24-KT), the next big thing in Korean baseball, is back. Kang batted third and designated hitter in a home game against Samsung on Sept. 19, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a walk in a 7-1 win. In his first at-bat, he took advantage of a forked ball from starter Hwang Dong-jae and sent it over the right field fence. It was the first time in eight games that he hit a grand slam against SSG. He is on a five-game hitting streak since hitting against Samsung on May 14.
After graduating from Seoul High, Kang established himself as one of the KBO’s leading power hitters with 29 cannons (batting .290) upon his debut in 2018. He also showed off his precision hitting, hitting 0.336 in 2019, 0.330 in 2020, and 0.345 in 2021. No wonder he was selected for every international tournament, but he slumped in 2022, hitting .245 with six home runs in 62 games. This year, he hit .271 with eight home runs. He hasn’t been able to bounce back. His quirky behavior led to boos of “What are you doing instead of focusing on the game,” and it also shook his “mentality. In June of this year, he was dropped from the first team roster due to poor form and these mental issues. He seemed to recover, returning at the end of the first half and hitting a home run in the first game of the second half, but he never looked like his old self. Even in September, he was mainly used as a pinch-hitter. As the Asian Games approached, there was a lot of talk that Kang should eventually be replaced, but his recent form has put those concerns to rest. The Korean team is without its top hitter Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) due to injury, so Kang’s resurgence is a big boost. He should form the center of the batting order alongside Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), who leads the team in home runs.먹튀검증
On the mound, it’s good to see Koo Chang-mo (27-NC) making a rehab start. He made a start in the Futures League against the KT Wiz in Iksan, Jeollabuk-do on June 19 and pitched two innings of one-hit ball with two strikeouts. It’s been 109 days since he was scratched from the June 2 game against the Jamsil LG after throwing just five pitches and feeling discomfort in his left arm. With a 9-1 record with a 1.74 ERA in 2020 and an 11-5 record with a 2.10 ERA in 2022, Korea’s chances of winning a fourth consecutive Asian Games title will be even better if he is on track.