Jang Jae-young, 21, is the favorite prospect of the Kiwoom Heroes. He is an “unfinished business” who throws a hard-hitting fastball in 안전놀이터 the mid-150 kilometers per hour.
The adjustment process hasn’t been smooth. After going 1-0 with a 9.17 ERA in 19 games in 2021, his first year as a professional, he had a disappointing 7.71 ERA in 14 games last year. This season, he’s showing signs of fulfilling his potential with a 1-3 record and 5.01 ERA in 17 games (13 starts), but his command is still a concern, as he’s allowed 43 walks in 59.1 innings (6.5 per nine).
The more walks he allows, the more likely he is to give up runs. Jang Jae-young also struggled with his velocity early in the season, but his recent trend has been a bit different. In his last four games, he has gone at least five innings in all of them, including two quality starts (six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs), and has an ERA of 4.50 (11 earned runs in 22 innings). In his last two outings, he allowed five walks in each, but kept the runs to a minimum. Kiwoom head coach Hong Won-ki has taken notice.
Before the 24th game against the Doosan Bears in Gochuk, Hong said, “(Jang) Jae-young is not about wins this year. “I’m focusing on how he reacts after giving up a hit and how he handles it. The fact that he can go over 100 pitches and not collapse at once is something that is changing little by little, unlike before.”
Jang is clearly an attractive fireballer. But if his pitches don’t go the way he wants them to, he won’t be able to survive no matter how powerful he is. That’s why he needs to reduce his strikeouts. “We need to reduce the number of strikeouts,” Hong said. “He knows that very well, so we need to see how his evaluation changes every game. The process is really important. It takes a lot of patience to develop a great starting pitcher.”