Hanwha’s free agent paragon Chae Eun-sung (33) was seen chatting with rookie Moon Hyun-bin (19) in the dugout after he struck out in the first inning against KIA in Daejeon on March 23. With the bases loaded and the score 3-0, Moon struck out on a five-pitch outside fastball from KIA pitcher Sean Anderson.
Chae Eun-sung approached Moon in the dugout. Chae was more disappointed with the process than the outcome. “There were a few times when I saw him (Moon) being too defensive in scoring position. The opposing pitcher was shaking a lot and kept throwing strikes. I told him that there’s no need for the batter to be at a defensive disadvantage when the pitcher needs to get into the game.”
Anderson, the KIA starter at the time, was shaken up quickly, giving up three runs in the first inning. He gave up a walk to Jang Jin-hyuk, the batter in front of Moon Hyun-bin, but Moon let a fastball come in for strikes one and three and struck out on a 2-2 count.
“In that situation, you don’t have to pick pitches that are in the zone,” Chae said. You can be aggressive and not try to load the bases. With the bases loaded, you don’t need a hit to score, just a ball on the ground. It’s such a waste to come in with a bad count and strike out. It was about not coming in empty-handed,” he recalls.
This is something Chae Eun-sung herself experienced when she was younger. Although she has grown into one of the most opportunistic hitters in the KBO, she says, “I was like that when I was younger. Through experience, I realize that even if I don’t get a hit in such a situation, I think I will get a hit unconditionally. When that accumulates, it becomes your record, and it’s a plus for the team.”
After receiving Chae Eun-sung’s advice, Moon’s swing became even sharper. Since that day, he has hit safely in five consecutive games, 메이저놀이터 batting 3-for-3 with a home run, seven RBIs and one walk in 21 at-bats. He is a hitter who sees the ball well and makes good contact for a rookie, but he is also showing his decisiveness by boldly putting his bat on the line in clutch situations.
In the fifth inning of the 23rd game against KIA, he pushed Anderson’s two-pitch slider into the left-field corner for an RBI double, and in the fifth inning of the 27th game against the Changwon NC, with runners on second and third, he fouled off Lee Jae-hak’s first-pitch changeup, but took advantage of the second low fastball for a two-run double to center field. The single, which extended the score to 3-0, proved crucial to the team’s victory.
“I was picking and choosing a lot of pitches to try to hit good pitches in my chances, and I was striking out a lot and getting down in the count,” Moon said, “but Chae Eun-sung told me, ‘If you just hit it, you’re going to get a run anyway, so if you see a similar pitch in the zone, turn the bat.’ That’s exactly what happened. When I was in that situation, I turned the bat, and it turned out well,” she said, expressing her gratitude.
While Chae Eun-sung’s advice based on her experience is influential, Moon Hyun-bin’s adaptability to put it into practice quickly is also unusual. Drafted by Hanwha in the second round (11th overall) this year out of Cheonan Bukil High School, Moon has been on the opening day roster ever since. While his numbers aren’t spectacular – 2-for-23 (104 at-bats) with 11 RBIs and seven walks in 40 games – he’s shown flashes of offensive talent. His primary position is second base, but he’s quickly adapted to playing center field and has shown offensive growth.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho, who considered moving Moon to the second team to give him more regular playing time and focus on his batting, is now ready to move him to center field. “He’s got the power, and he’s got the range,” Choi said. His batting and selection are good for his age. Players like him need to play consistently,” Choi said, expressing his desire to develop him into a mainstay.