A new face has appeared in the KIA bullpen. Shin Beom-soo (25) is heralding a tectonic shift in the KIA bullpen with his impressive performance for the second consecutive day.
Shin Bum-soo wore a catcher’s mask from the second inning against Daejeon Hanwha on March 23. After giving up six runs in the first inning, KIA manager Kim Jong-kook removed starting catcher Han Seung-taek and gave Shin a chance. After being called up to the first team on April 14, Shin started three of the six games as a substitute. He was mostly used in the late innings of games from the seventh to the ninth inning and had only one at-bat, but on this day, he was on base from the second inning and had several at-bats.
He grounded out to second base in his first at-bat in the fifth inning, but in the top of the seventh, he took advantage of a 154-kilometer fastball from Hanwha Express rookie Kim Seo-hyun for a double to the right-center field fence. It was Shin’s first hit of the season, an RBI single that scored Byun Woo-hyuk from second base. It was Shin’s first hit in the first team in three years and eight months (1338 days) since September 23, 2019, against Suwon KT, before his military enlistment.
Riding the momentum, he made his first start of the season as the No. 8 hitter against Hanwha on Sept. 24. Manager Kim Jong-kook said, “Bum-soo has his own swing, so I have high expectations for his hitting. I like how he is confident in his own swing. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” and expressed his expectations for Shin’s batting.
On the day, Shin went 1-for-4 with a home run and two strikeouts. The one-hit process was not unusual. In the fifth inning against Hanwha starter Jang Min-jae, Shin took a four-pitch forkball in a two-strike count and hit a huge foul ball just outside the right field foul pole. He raised his right arm slightly after the hit, hoping for a home run, but the pitch deflected out of play at the last second. 메이저놀이터
There is a baseball myth that a foul home run is followed by a strikeout, but Shin was different. On the very next pitch, he pulled a big curveball from Jang Min-jae and sent it between first and second base. Hanwha second baseman Lee Do-yoon leaped to stop the ball from going out, but the ball fell to the side.
Lee scooped it up and threw to first base, but Shin was a little quicker with a head-first slide. An infield hit to second base. A desperation slide to first base gave him a hit for the second straight game. He struck out swinging in the seventh and ninth innings, but continued to harass the opposing pitcher with seven and six pitches, respectively. Even after a two-strike count, he fouled off a pitch and swung hard at the last second.
Not only at the plate, but also on defense, he was energetic, throwing his mask away when a foul fly was hit. He also kept his framing in check and made no mistakes in his catching or overall defense. Starting pitcher Yoon Young-chul matched Shin Bum-soo with the first batter of the day and threw six innings and one run for his first quality start. Yoon said, “I had good chemistry with Bum-soo. After I got off the mound, I thanked him,” Yoon said.
Shin, a right-handed-hitting catcher from Gwangju Dongseong High School, was drafted late in the second round (78th overall) in 2016, but was recognized for his hitting talent enough to follow him to the first team spring training as a rookie. In 2019, he hit two home runs in 39 games with the first team. He played just two games with the first team last year after completing his military service and focused on developing his game in the Futures League.
The catcher position has emerged as KIA’s biggest weakness after missing out on internal free agent Park Dong-won (LG) last winter. Starter Han Seung-taek continues to struggle at the plate, batting 1-for-2 with seven RBIs in 34 games (9-for-71), and Joo Hyo-sang, who was acquired in a trade from Kiwoom, has been demoted to the second team after struggling with one RBI in 19 games (2-for-32). Shin Beom-soo, who took his place, has begun to take advantage of the opportunity with a sharp swing and an uncharacteristic desperation.