“I didn’t even think about entering the Korean Series.”
It was just one game, but it left a strong enough impression to change his mind. LG Twins left-handed pitching prospect Son Ju-young, 25, has earned a spot in the Korean Series roster with one appearance.
Son took the mound against the Lotte Giants at Jamsil Stadium on April 10 and pitched five innings of two-hit ball with two walks and three strikeouts to earn the win. It had been 772 days since he earned his first win against Kiwoom on August 29, 2021.
Son was a left-handed pitching prospect who was selected in the second round of the 2017 rookie draft. He completed his military service by entering active duty in 2018 and returned in 2021. In 2022, he raised expectations by joining the opening day rotation and threw a fastball up to 149 km/h in a six-inning, one-run shutout against Gochuk Kiwoom on April 6. However, he complained of elbow pain in late April and spent time rehabbing, eventually undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery.
He returned in September and announced his return with a win against Lotte. On that day, Son threw a fastball (55 pitches), slider (16 pitches), curve (10 pitches) and fork (3 pitches). His fastball reached a high of 147 kilometers. His fastball delivery was back and his curveball with a big angle was eye-catching.스포츠토토
Fans were surprised, everyone was surprised, but the most surprised person was coach Yeom Kyung-yup. The change in Son Joo-young stuck in his mind. “I corrected my form with Coach Kim Kyung-tae and Coach Kim Kwang-sam and worked on my basics, and I got much better,” he said, adding, “The curve was good and the tip of the ball was good.”
Coach Yong Kyung-yup Yeom was thinking of Son as a starting pitcher in 2024. He was going to compete with Kim Yun-sik, Lee Sang-young, Lee Ji-gang, and Kang Hyo-jong for the starting spot. If included in the starting lineup, he was planning to spend a season in the 10-day rotation.
But a strong performance against Lotte changed his mind. “Actually, I didn’t think about (Son) starting the Korean Series at all, but after that game (against Lotte), I changed my mind a little bit,” he said, emphasizing, “I’m going to watch him a little more in our own blue-and-white games.”
Having clinched the top spot in the regular season, LG is now slowly preparing for the Korean Series by managing the physical condition of its main players and testing new players. Once the regular season wraps up, the team will take a three-day break before heading straight into training camp at LG Champions Park in Icheon. During the training camp, the team will play a series of scrimmages to keep their hands-on experience and improve their physical condition. The team will also try out new faces for the Korean Series roster. Son Joo-young is one of them. Son Joo-young will be tested to see if he can make the Korean Series roster.
With Adam Plutko’s participation in the Korean Series virtually assured, Casey Kelly, Chan-kyu Lim, Won-tae Choi, Yun-sik Kim, and Lee Jung-yong will be the starting pitchers for the Korean Series. The pitching roster as a whole is also light on lefties. Ham Deok-ju, who has been rehabbing from elbow pain, is expected to be back in time for the Korean Series, but there are still variables to consider.
Initially, Yeom envisioned a pitching roster of 13, but with the return of Son Joo-young, the number of pitchers on the roster could be adjusted. “If Son Joo-young comes in, we can have 14 pitchers on the roster,” Yeom explained. Son Joo-young is a new card in the deck. The pitching performance of Son against Lotte was a reminder of how strongly he impressed Yeom Kyung-yup.