Kim In-Beom “Will Challenge for Rookie of the Year” in front of his mother

An emotional first professional win. Six years after his debut, Kiwoom Heroes right-hander Kim In-beom, 24, pitched a winning game in front of his mother, who came to watch him play.

Kim pitched five innings (74 pitches), two hits, three walks, one strikeout, and no runs in front of 18,479 fans at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday in the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League regular-season opener against the LG Twins.

It’s been six years since he joined Nexen (now Kiwoom) with the 34th overall pick in the second round of the 2019 KBO Draft after graduating from Chonnam National University. The bats also helped Inbum with a combined 14 hits, led by Kim Hye-sung, who went 5-for-5 with one home run, one RBI and two stolen bases. In addition, Cho Sang-woo (1 inning), Kim Sung-min (1 inning), Moon Sung-hyun (1 inning) and Park Yoon-seong (1 inning) combined for five strikeouts to preserve the win.

Manager Kium Hong Won-ki said, “Starter Kim In-beom pitched smartly to take away the timing of the state hitters. He showed good chemistry with Kim Jae-hyun for five innings. Congratulations to him on his debut win. The next pitchers also kept the lead intact by shutting down the opposing bats with scoreless innings. On offense, Kim Hye-sung led the way with five hits. Song Sung-moon also contributed to the win with two sacrifice flies.”

After the game, Kim In-beom said, “This is my happiest day. I always trusted my brothers and pitched well. Today, I had a good feeling every time I pitched,” he said of his first win.

Kim threw only 74 pitches until the fifth inning to complete his first quality start (six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs). “I was a little disappointed, but coach Lee Seung-ho said, ‘Let’s finish here because we got a good result,’ so it was okay,” Kim said.

His opponent was LG, a team with the third-best batting average in the league (0.284). Kim’s fastball only topped out at 140 kilometers per hour, but he used a mix of pitches – 43 fastballs, 19 sliders, six forks, four sinkers, and two curveballs – to get the bats going. Two of his 토토사이트 pitches weren’t even good pitches.

“I think my average fastball velocity used to be in the low-to-mid 140 kilometers per hour, but after I had surgery to remove bone chips from my right elbow last October, my velocity dropped. Since then, I’ve been focusing on control. According to my catchers, my fastball has a lot of movement and is hard to hit. When I don’t have my fastball, I always try to avoid it and it doesn’t work out, but if I just trust my pitches and put it in the middle, I always get good results, so I’m trying to get quick wins.”

It was a long time coming for Kim to get his first professional win. Although he was born in Hanam, Gyeonggi-do, he traveled alone to Naju, Jeollanam-do, for middle school to play baseball and finished high school in Jeonju. He broke into the professional ranks in 2021, three years after his debut, but after pitching just 5⅓ innings in three games, he had to settle his military affairs through the Armed Forces Sports Unit (Sangsang). He underwent bone chip surgery on his elbow last October before being discharged from the military. This year, he turned into an ace, setting a new KBO League record for the most innings pitched without allowing an earned run (19⅔ innings) since his debut, but he didn’t get much help from his team’s bats. But on the day his mother visited Jamsil Baseball Stadium, he finally recorded his first win in 13 games.

That’s why Kim is still in contention to win the KBO Rookie of the Year despite entering his sixth year as a professional. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) defines rookie of the year as “a pitcher who has pitched 30 innings or fewer in the first team and a hitter who has 60 at-bats or fewer, all within five years of joining the organization. Kim had only pitched 5⅓ innings in the first team within five years of joining the league before the start of this season.

“I thought it was inevitable that I couldn’t win, and I thought I would pitch well next time, but I’m really happy that I was able to pitch a winning game in front of my mom today. I want to say thank you,” he said, “I know I’m eligible for the Rookie of the Year. My first goal is to pitch hard and become the Rookie of the Year, and my second goal is to contribute to the team. If I can add 10 wins to that, it would be great,” he said.

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