MBC Sports Plus commentator Park Jae-hong, who symbolized the “five-tool player” during his playing days by ushering in the KBO’s first 30-homer, 30-steal era, was right on target with KT Wiz catcher Kang Hyun-woo.
Kang Hyun-woo wore the starting mask against Samsung in Daegu on the 26th. In the bottom of the fifth inning with the score tied 1-1 and the bases loaded, Kang faced Samsung starter Yang Chang-seop on a 2B-1S pitch and pulled a four-pitch fastball (142 kilometers) for a double down the left-field line. The fastball was clocked at 171.2 mph.
“The thing that surprised me was the speed of the ball. When he gets hit, it’s pretty fast. He has the ability to deliver power. He doesn’t get a lot of playing time, so he doesn’t have a lot of appeal, but his ability to deliver power is very good.” Park Jae-hong, the commentator for the game, was surprised by Kang’s batting speed.
Kang took advantage of Yang Chang-seop’s wild pitch to reach third base. Shortly after, Kang Baek-ho walked on an automatic double play. Runners on first and third. Kim Sang-soo and Anthony Alford followed with back-to-back RBI singles to make it 3-1. KT won the game in the eighth inning on a single by Moon Sang-chul.
Kang, who began his professional career as a second-round pick of KT in 2020 after graduating from Yushin High School, is batting just 1-for-9 (10-for-51) with one home run, six RBIs and five runs scored in 39 games with the first team, but has been praised for his bat.
As a junior at Yushin, he showed promise as an offensive catcher, going 31-for-27 with two home runs and 20 RBIs, and was awarded the Lee Mansoo Catcher Award, named after former SK Wyverns manager Lee Mansoo, 메이저놀이터 who was a fixture in Korean professional baseball, to the catcher who performed the best in high school baseball during the year.
At the time, Lee Man-soo said, “Kang Hyun-woo’s catching ability, delivery, and blocking were the best among high school catchers, and he was also a good offensive player. He has a good personality, which is his biggest advantage as a catcher. He has the qualities to become a big-time catcher representing the KBO League in the future.”
Kang Hyun-woo hit a bullet-like double to set the stage for a 4-1 comeback win. After Jang Jang-woo, he is the next best catcher for KT.