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“A player whose (potential) will burst if given a chance” Tearful LG prospect raised in the land of opportunity to lead the top 5

LG Twins prospect Lee Ju-hyung (22), who was considered to have nothing to prove in the Futures League, is headed to the “Land of Opportunity” for the Kiwoom Heroes.

Lee Ju-hyung went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored as the No. 7 hitter and left fielder in the regular-season home game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Samsung Lions at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Monday. Despite Kiwoom’s 2-7 loss, Lee had a successful debut, greeting the home fans at first base in his first at-bat before singling up the middle to David Buchanan and scoring. Kim Tae-jin’s single to left-center field showed off his quick feet as he made it from second base to home plate with room to spare.

Prior to the game, Kiwoom officially announced that it had “acquired infielder Lee Ju-hyung from LG for pitcher Kim Dong-gyu and a first-round draft pick in the 2024 First-Year Player Draft, and released pitcher Choi Won-tae.” This year, Choi Won-tae (26) is 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 17 games and has been a starter. In terms of ERA alone, he ranks 10th in the league among starting pitchers and fourth among Korean players. As the opposite of Choi Won-tae, he was considered the main chip, so there was a lot of interest in Lee Joo-hyung. After the trade was announced, Lee’s tearful final words on LG’s YouTube channel garnered over 900 comments. At the Gocheok Sky Dome, many fans were seen holding Lee’s LG jersey.

It was said that the 9th-ranked Kiwoom had given up on the season by giving up their first-team resources, but Kiwoom head coach Ko Hyung-wook told Star News on the 29th, “We can’t give up on the season. The game difference with the fourth-place NC Dinos is not big (5.5 games),” he said.

It’s not an easy situation, but the math says that Choi’s absence will be covered by the starters, including Chung Chan-heon (34). Kiwoom leads the league in starting ERA (3.31) and has a solid mound. With a projected starting rotation of Ahn Woo-jin, Ariel Hurtado, Ian McKinney, Jang Jae-young, and Jeong Chan-heon, there’s a lot of faith in the fifth starter. This season, Jung has a 2-5 record with a 3.94 ERA in 11 games for the first team and a 2.08 ERA in four games for the Futures, which is good enough for a fifth starter. “He’s been pitching well in the Futures League,” Ko said. If he comes to the first team and continues to do the same, it won’t be too much of a problem for the starting staff.”

The key is the league’s worst batting lineup, which is without Lee Jung-hoo, 25, who underwent left ankle ligament surgery. With an expected three-month rehabilitation, Kiwoom’s team batting average through 29 games is .252, ninth in the league, and its OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is .671, 10th in the league. The team believes that Lee can fill the void left by Lee Jung-hoo. Lee Joo-hyung was a rising star who was described as “untested in the second team.”

After graduating from Gyeongnam High School, Lee joined LG with the 13th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 rookie draft. He was limited to 35 at-bats in the first team before being traded, but he had nothing to prove in the Futures League, where he hit .335 with 11 home runs, 63 RBIs, 76 runs scored, 21 doubles, a .454 on-base percentage and a .561 slugging percentage in each season. At LG, poor second base defense and a lack of outfield depth prevented him from establishing himself in the first team, but Kiwoom’s direction was clear. “We need to discuss it with the field,” Ko said, but added, “He can be a backup first baseman, but we expect him to play one of the outfield spots 꽁머니사이트.”

While he is expected to play primarily as a corner outfielder, the most anticipated aspect of his game is his precise hitting and quick feet. He also has the power to hit over the Jamsil Stadium, so we can expect to see a bit more of Lee Jung-hoo. Ko said, “Lee Joo-hyung is a player who was evaluated well within our organization, but he was also evaluated very well by LG. I think he can fulfill his potential if given the chance. Naturally, our offense will be stronger.”

Kiwoom has many examples of prospects from LG, such as Park Byung-ho (37-KT Wiz) and Seo Gun-chang (34-LG), who grew into franchise stars. Lee Ju-hyung was also a player whose potential was recognized by everyone. Kiwoom, which also lost another franchise star in Choi Won-tae, is hoping that Lee Joo-hyung will reach his full potential and help them advance to the top five.


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