“160km? A restraint challenge that no one can break”… The dream of Jang Hyun-seok, the biggest fish in high school￼
Even just 10 years ago, 150 km per hour was the symbol of a fastball. It was even more so on the Korean high school baseball stage. Even if it exceeds 150 km per hour, the title of ‘a pitcher that comes out once in 10 years’ was attached.
However, recently, Korean high school players have also grown in hardware, and through scientific exercise methods, fireballers in the 150km/h range are appearing one after another. Beyond the early 150 km/h range, pitchers who shoot in the middle and late stages are now appearing one by one every year.
In 2020, Deoksu High School Jang Jae-young (Kiwoom Heroes) attracted attention with a maximum speed of 157 km. In 2021, Gwangju Jinheung High School Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles), Deoksu High School Shim Jun-seok (Major League Pittsburgh Pirates) and Seoul High School Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles) stood at the center of the topic with a maximum speed of 156-157 km in an official high school baseball game.
2023. The most talked about person on the high school stage this season is definitely Jang Hyun-seok (19), a senior at Masan Yongma High School. With a height of 190 cm and a weight of 90 kg, as a pitcher, he draws attention from his slim body.
In his first year, he did not play an official game because his shoulder was not good. Then, his speed gradually increased and he recorded the highest distance of 156 km (Blue Dragon Sekwang Classic) in official games. So, it is difficult to estimate how far the redemption will rise this year. It is already being targeted by scouts from overseas as well as domestically.
The last 18 days before the Lunar New Year holiday. I met Jang Hyun-seok on the campus of Yongma High School, which spreads quietly under Yongmasan Mountain in Changwon, and listened to his dreams for the new year and the stories in his heart.
◆ Current status
– It is an important time to go up to the third year of high school. It’s getting a lot of attention.
“I’m just a high school player, but I’m grateful that an amateur player is getting this kind of attention.”
– How have you been during the winter?
“My back hurt at the end of last year, so I’ve been rehabilitating and building my body at the training center. Today (18th), I started the first group training of the new year with my colleagues at Masan Yongma High School.”
– Good looks.
“I’m upset that there are many articles about the photo of my hair that I submitted to the (Korea Baseball Softball) Association (scratching my head and laughing). People around me say I’m good-looking in real life (laughing).
“When my friends or people around me say, ‘An article came out again,’ I see ID photos first. More than that, I’ve never done an interview, whether I’m going to the major leagues or not, but there are times when articles come out with only the title changed…. People who saw the article asked me When I look at it, I feel a bit stressed because I have to keep explaining it.”
– Then, have you decided whether to stay in Korea and go to the KBO League or go straight to the overseas stage?
“I haven’t decided yet. At first, I was going to stay in Korea, but I’m also thinking about going to the US positively… I think it’s difficult to say right now. The important thing is that I have to do well this year. Only then will I have the right to decide. If you don’t come out and don’t get evaluated, you don’t have a choice.”
– Last year, you said you would stay in Korea.
“Until the beginning of last year, I hadn’t even heard that I was number one in the nation, and I said that (I would stay in Korea) because my ball speed didn’t even reach 150 km, but I think that later became a definitive misrepresentation.”
-Recently, Shim Jun-seok signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Major League Baseball team. Did you have any concerns or influences about your career after hearing the news?
“Honestly, I don’t care about that. I think, ‘Since he’s a player Shim Jun-seok, he must have done that, it’s great’, but it doesn’t affect me.”
On the first day of Yongma High’s group outdoor training, a Hanwha Eagles scout came down to Changwon to watch Yongma High’s players and Jang Hyun-seok training. If Jang Hyun-seok applies for the KBO rookie draft, he is highly likely to be selected by Hanwha, who has the first pick (last year).
– A Hanwha scout came to see you.
“I didn’t hear that he was coming at first, but I found out during training. Thank you for coming and showing interest.”
– It is already being evaluated as the number one pitcher in high school.
“Because there are expectations from people around me, to be honest, it’s a bit of a burden. When I don’t satisfy as much as I expected, I get worried about what will happen to me (laughs). It motivates me.”
scouts are unanimous in their mouths about Jang Hyun-seok’s potential, saying, “He can become the greatest ever.” Team A’s scouting team leader said, “There are ups and downs and a rough side because of my lack of experience, but I already recorded the highest speed of 156km in my second year of high school. More important than that is the average speed. Unlike other players, he consistently overcame 150km in the second half of last year,” he said, adding, “I can go over 160km this season.”
In particular, it is evaluated that his growth potential is infinite. Jang Jae-young, Moon Dong-ju, Shim Jun-seok, and Kim Seo-hyun were close to perfect bodies when they were in their 3rd year of high school, but Jang Hyun-seok has a slim body compared to them. Before Jang Hyun-seok entered his high school stage, he was 190 cm tall and weighed 70 kg. He also introduces himself as “very skinny,” and that he “is gradually gaining weight and gaining muscle.” Currently, his weight is 90kg, but if he goes through weight training and systematic training after becoming a pro, he is likely to gain more power. His arms and legs are long, and his body is flexible, which makes him look forward to it even more. 안전놀이터
– Do you have a desire for redemption?
“Honestly, I am greedy. I want to go over 160 km.”
– In the history of high school baseball in Korea, no player has yet recorded 160 km in an official game in Korea.
“Is that so? I want to become the best high school player in Korea in terms of speed. In terms of ball speed, I want to shoot a ball speed that no one can break, and even if I go pro later, my juniors can’t easily surpass it.
“Yes. I know. So, I am preparing a lot with my own personal schedule. I think the risk of injury has been greatly reduced because I can complete the school team training as it is and fill it up with my personal training schedule in between.”
– What kind of training is it?
“There is a separate weight training program, and when I do group training at school, other friends train so I don’t have time to exercise, so I create a training schedule that only I can do.”
– Do you enjoy baseball?
“I didn’t know I would become like this until I first played baseball when I was young. It’s fun because I’m doing well. When I came up to high school, I set goals to throw 150km in my first year, 155km in my second year, and 160km in my third year. For me, I was aiming for the speed of my dreams, but as it gradually became a reality, I felt a sense of wonder and pride that I worked hard.”
– Did you set a specific goal for redemption?
“If I set a goal, I can develop. I study baseball hard, but I feel like my skills are improving as much as I do, so it’s worthwhile. , I also look for things like pitching mechanics on Instagram or YouTube, etc. I’m looking at the big picture rather than a specific player. I pay attention to the details, such as balance, separation of the upper and lower body, use of the front leg, folding of the hip at the moment of throwing, etc. see
– I’m a student. I think I will do well in my studies.
“No. I did a little in elementary school, but it was because I was exercising (laughs).
– Were you quick at restraints from a young age?
“I’ve been faster than my friends since elementary school. I ran about 144km in my second year of middle school.”
– What are you focusing on to get a higher rating?
“Last year, at the beginning of the season, my pitching was a little bad, but this year, I am trying to catch my pitching well from the beginning.
– Do you think a lot during the game?
“Rather, I think simply. I just think about throwing hard. I think a lot during practice, but when I’m playing and pitching, I’m a style where I don’t think about other things.”
-What about the changing ball?
“I’m making two sliders. A slider that curves sideways and a slider that drops like a bell. I throw both types of sliders confidently, but I think I need to refine my curve and changeup a little more with pitching. The curve was originally really good. But I seem to have forgotten how to throw it while throwing the slider.
– What do you learn from pitching coach Cho Jeong-hoon?
“Don’t touch the details too much. He gives a lot of advice on game management, mentality, and technique.”
– You can’t be selected as a youth representative.
“That part is a bit unfortunate. I was greedy for the youth representative, but since I was in the first year of middle school, I couldn’t become the youth representative this year because of my age. As I was not selected last year, that dream has been abandoned.”
-Yongmago’s baseball team has a long history, but it has never won a championship on the national stage.
“I want to win the championship before I graduate. I think that’s a big idea, but it’s not possible to win a championship with just one pitcher, Hyun-seok Jang. You need to have a good fight, you need to have a good game, and I think you need to fit together well. Still, to win the championship I have to play baseball as a goal. If I win the championship while I am there, it will go down in history.”
– What are your future plans?
“I’m starting the winter league from February 1st, and I’m going to focus on the Jeju Island league in mid-February rather than Changwon. see.”
– Do you have a role model?
“It seems to change little by little from time to time. I try to see the strengths of each player. If I was a special person, I was attracted to the late Choi Dong-won. I thought it was amazing how he was able to throw such a fastball when baseball was not so developed at that time. I also watched it and watched it on YouTube, and I was particularly moved by the fighting spirit that made him win four times in the Korean Series (1984) by himself. I want to become a player with that fighting spirit.”
-What kind of player do you want to be in the future?
“I don’t know if it will be in Korea or the United States, but I want to become a great player in that league wherever I am. I want to become a player that no one knows when it comes to Jang Hyun-seok.”
Even just 10 years ago, 150 km per hour was the symbol of a fastball. It was even more so on the Korean high school baseball stage. Even if it exceeds 150 km per hour, the title of ‘a pitcher that comes out once in 10 years’ was attached. However, recently, Korean high school players have also…