Will ‘Baseball 2.0’ take over the KBO once again?
There was a time when the KBO league had a “baseballer 2” craze. Representative examples are Lee Jong-beom and Lee Jeong-hoo. Lee Jong-beom, who was known as the “son of the wind” and a “baseball genius” during his playing days, was one of the best shortstops in Korean baseball, and his every play is still a “legend”. Lee Jong-bum’s son, Lee Jung-hoo, is the star of Kiwoom, winning the regular season MVP award last year and becoming the first father and son MVP. Coach Lee Jong-beom was awarded the regular season MVP in 1994.
Now, another ‘Baseball Man 2’ is on his way. Lee Byung-kyu, Jr. is making his debut in the KBO. The KBO held the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft on Thursday at the Westin Chosun Hotel Grand Ballroom in Sogong, Seoul. SSG selected Whimungo outfielder Lee Seung-min (18) in the second round.
Lee is the son of none other than “Legend” Lee Byung-gyu, Samsung’s head coach. Lee made his debut with LG in 1997, winning the Rookie of the Year award and becoming the first Jamsil player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in 1999. After playing in Nippon Professional Baseball’s Junichi from 2007 to 2009, Lee became the oldest player to reach the postseason in 2013 when LG made its first postseason appearance in 11 years. With a career batting average of .311, 2,043 hits, 161 home runs, and 972 RBIs, Lee retired his jersey at the end of the 2016 season, and his number 9 was retired by LG.
We can’t wait to see what kind of player the “second generation” of the “legendary” Lee Byung-kyu will be in the history of the KBO.
Lee Byung-kyu’s nickname during his playing days was Red Tomah. Therefore, Lee Seung-min’s nickname is already ‘Red Earth Foal’.
After the draft, we were able to meet Lee Seung-min in his SSG uniform. “I was drafted earlier than I thought,” he says, “At first, when I heard ‘Whimungo,’ I thought my teammate (Jang) An-seok was being called, but then they called my name, but he went to Hanwha in the next round, so I felt good.” He explains how he felt when he was drafted. His teammate, Jang Ahn-seok, was drafted by Hanwha in the first pick of the third round.
“SSG was the championship team last year, so when I watched them play baseball last year, I thought ‘they’re attractive’ and ‘they’re cool,’ and they were always in the back of my mind,” Lee said.
His role models, Choo Shin-soo and Han Yoo-seom, were already in his mind. “Shin-soo Choo and Yu-sung Han are my role models,” Lee said, “They are both left-handed hitters and have the ability to hit more than 20 home runs. I’ve always heard from my coaches that I have a similar style to Han Yoo-seom.”
Despite having his father’s blood in his veins, his hitting style may be different. “I think our approach to hitting is similar, but the type of hitting we pursue is different,” Lee said. “My father was a shift hitter, and I pursue medium to long distance, so I think our hitting style is a little different.”
When asked what he usually emphasizes to his son, Lee said that he often says simple but key words such as “work hard,” “be sincere,” and “don’t think of yourself as different from others.” 안전놀이터
His son has now grown up enough to follow in his footsteps and enter the professional ranks: “I’m aiming to play 144 games on the field, so I need to have the mindset to shake it off if I don’t have a good day. So I think I need to grow a little more mentally,” said Lee. Just as his father, Lee Byung-kyu, won the Rookie of the Year title with LG in 1997, it will be interesting to see if his son, Lee Seung-min, can make a difference as soon as he makes his professional debut.