Lotte One-Two Punch at the Asian Games?
It’s certainly possible. Right now, Lotte has a starter who is a national team member and another who looks like he could develop into a national team member.
Lotte’s “homegrown ace,” Park Se-woong (28), was the hero of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March when he saved the South Korean team in a crisis. After back-to-back losses to Australia and Japan, South Korea needed a win against the Czech Republic, and Park came to the rescue, tossing 4⅔ innings of one-hit ball while striking out eight.안전놀이터
For the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, the Korean National Team will select three wildcard spots for players who are 25 years old or younger or in their fourth year of play. For now, Park is the most likely wild card candidate among the starting pitchers.
Park struggled early in the season as he was unable to generate offense. He struggled with full-count battles and was unable to get much out of his pitches as his pitch count increased. However, he came from behind to record his first win of the season with six innings of one-run ball against Sasik SSG on March 19, and then showed that he was back to his best with seven innings of two-run ball against Sasik NC on March 25, striking out eight and walking none. Even Park himself said, “My location near the strike zone has improved.” He followed that up with a six-inning, five-hit, one-run performance against Jamsil LG Electronics on March 31 to earn his third win of the season.
With the final selection of the Asian Games roster now underway, Park’s recent pace, coupled with his extensive national team experience, means that he is increasingly likely to make the team. He is also more motivated than any other player, as he will have to serve in the military if he does not win a gold medal at this year’s Asian Games.
In addition to Park, Lotte has another homegrown starter looking to make the Asian Games team. That would be Na Kyun-ahn, 25.
Na has a 5-1 record with a 2.36 ERA, utilizing his fastball and forkball with excellent command. He’s also under the national team’s age cutoff, making him one of the most competitive starters under 25. Of course, the best homegrown starter in the KBO is Kiwoom’s Ahn Woo-jin, but he won’t be playing at the Asian Games. Due to a previous incident where he was disciplined for bullying, Ahn received a three-year suspension from the Korea Baseball and Softball Association, and athletes with more than three years of suspension are permanently banned from participating in international competitions organized by the Korean Sports Federation, including the Olympics and Asian Games.
Lotte also has left-handed pitcher Kim Jin-wook as a favorite to make the Asian Games team. We don’t yet know who will make the final roster, but given the performances of Lotte’s homegrown one-two punch, we can describe their chances of making the team in two words: likely.