“New King? No, no, no.” Hanwha Bokdan promised only one thing: a sprint.

“No, no, no,” he said, clapping his hands together, afraid to say the word rookie king. For Moon Hyun-bin (19), the multi-rookie who emerged as Hanwha’s Bokdan, there was something more important than the rookie king.

Moon showed off his punch by hitting back-to-back home runs against Sajik Lotte on April 14-15. His first home run was followed by another the next day. Moon, who has a small but solid build at 174 centimeters and 82 kilograms, also hit five home runs in three years at Cheonan Bukil High School. Last year, he won the Shinsegae E-Mart ship home run title (2).

“I don’t think I have a long-hitting tool, but I think I can generate stronger bat speed than others. I think I was trying to hit a line drive and it just happened to go far,” he said. “The first home run was aimed at a fastball from the opposing pitcher (Dan Streeley), and the second home run (to Na Gyun-ahn) was a forked ball and hit well in front of (the plate),” he recalled.스포츠토토

Drafted by Hanwha in the second round, 11th overall, Moon was the only rookie outfielder on the team to be included in the first team spring training. He showed promise early on, earning a spot on the opening roster, and is still with the team three months into the season. Moon’s primary position in high school was second base, but he’s been getting consistent playing time in the middle infield.

Through 16 games, Moon is batting 2-for-5 (41-for-164) with two home runs, 20 RBIs, and a .636 OPS in 56 games. It’s not a spectacular performance, but it’s a steady upward curve. He started April with a 2-for-8, five RBI, .591 OPS in 21 games, then improved to a 2-for-6, three RBI, .633 OPS in 21 games in May and a 2-for-9, two home runs, six RBI, .763 OPS in 14 games in June.

There was a good moment. After striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning against the KIA in Daejeon on May 23, he was told by senior Chae Eun-sung, “You don’t have to pick the ball in scoring position. If you don’t have runners on base, you can be aggressive. Even if you don’t get a hit, you can still score a run if you put a ball on the ground. It’s your record, and it’s a plus for the team.” Since that game, Moon has been on a tear, batting 3-for-9 (25-for-81) with two home runs, 12 RBIs and a .777 OPS in 21 games. He is also 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position (12-for-4).

Moon said, “Chae Eun-sung told me to be aggressive with my bat when I get the chance, and it’s paid off. “I didn’t really think about the batting order, but coach Choi Won-ho told me, ‘I want you to swing for the process more than the result. I feel like I’ve taken the pressure off the sixth or seventh spot in the batting order.”

[OSEN=Busan, Lee Seok-woo] Hanwha’s Moon Hyun-bin is welcomed by Chae Eun-sung after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning. 2023.06.15 / foto0307@osen.co.kr

[OSEN=Dae-Sun Lee] Hanwha Moon Hyun-bin 2023.04.15 /sunday@osen.co.kr

After batting 1-2 since the end of May, he dropped to 6-8 in the last six games, starting with the LG game against Daejeon on April 9. Since then, he has hit two home runs and three doubles. Coach Choi Won-ho said, “When he was batting first, he was so focused on getting on base that he couldn’t see the ball and make his own swings. When he moved down in the batting order, he started hitting long balls. He’s hitting in his own style,” he said.

He is as eager to play defense as he is to hit. With 36 games (31 starts) and 251 innings in center field, nine games (five starts) and 48 innings in shortstop, and nine games (three starts) and 44 innings in second base, Moon is practically the starting center fielder. However, he also plays both the outfield and the infield during pregame defense drills. “Right now, I’m getting opportunities in the outfield, but I want to play infield. I don’t want to give up the infield,” he said.

“I don’t think about it at all. I have a lot of brothers and friends who are very good. I only care about what I need to do. If I don’t get injured and stay in the first team until the end, my performance will follow,” he said. “I only want to talk about what I can keep. For example, I can’t say I’m going to show you another home run because I hit a home run. A sprint is a play that I can protect. That’s why I say sprint every time,” he emphasized.

Deeply impressed by MBC Sports Plus commentator Yang Jun-hyuk, who sprinted to first base until the day he retired, Moon makes it a habit to mention sprinting whenever he is interviewed. For Moon, who shows his sincere determination on the field every day, it is more important than being the rookie king.

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