Looking for young catchers… Prospects who finally appeared in the catcher crisis

The phrase ‘there are no young catchers in the league’ has become so familiar that it no longer sounds new. In fact, among the 10 teams’ main catchers last year, none were in their 20s, and this year has not changed much. Yang Eui-ji, who signed a contract for up to 6 years and 15.2 billion won in the second free agency last year, and Doosan’s deal stemmed from this rarity. (▶ Related column: FA market in leagues that can’t grow catchers)

Someone might ask,메이저사이트 ‘Originally a catcher is a position that takes a long time to grow’. Of course, it is acceptable to some extent, but it is not 100% true. It’s because it’s not that long ago that catchers in their 20s became so precious in the KBO League. Yang Eui-ji took the place of Doosan’s main host from the age of 23, Kang Min-ho started playing more than 100 games each from the 20-year-old season, and Yoo Kang-nam from the 23-year-old season.

Over the five years from 2014 to 2018, the proportion of catchers in their 20s accounted for more than 60% of the total, and exceeded 50% by 2019. To put it rather simply, the odds of seeing a catcher in his 20s in a game at the time were more than one out of two. However, this share has fallen sharply since 2020, and decreased to less than 1/3 last year.

Why there are no young catchers
It’s clear why. This is because after the draft in 2014, when KT started participating, leagues and clubs were unable to select or develop real catcher resources.

In the nine years from 2014 to last year, 94 catchers, including 7 first-time nominees, were nominated, and among them, the two with the highest contribution to victory (WAR) against replacement players were those who gave up the catcher position. Those who remain as catchers have not been able to occupy the starting position due to senior players or are staying at the level of substitute players.

At this point, I would like to diagnose what the problem is and make efforts to solve it, but fortunately, the light of hope is shining little by little. As can be seen from the percentage of defensive innings of catchers in their 20s, this is because the ‘young catcher’s struggle’, which bottomed out in 2022, is showing signs of rebounding little by little this year. (28.3% in 2022 → 31.8% in 2023)

finally out! SSG Cho Hyeong-woo – Kiwoom Kim Dong-heon

SSG Cho Hyeong-woo (left) – Kiwoom Kim Dong-heon (right)

Of course, the performances of 29-year-old Kim Joon-tae and Doosan’s Jang Seung-hyun, both of the same age, would have had an impact on this rebound, but 21-year-old Cho Hyung-woo and 19-year-old Kim Dong-heon are more noticeable.

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