Hanwha’s lifeguard Moon Dong-joo aims for the Asian Games
No. 1 Rookie of the Year candidate with six wins this year
“I can throw a fastball in the 160km range.
I’ll do my part to win Hangzhou.”
After finishing last year with a 1-3 record and a 5.65 ERA, Hanwha’s Moon Dong-ju has improved to 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA as of Aug. 31. “As the Asian Games is my first international competition, I will use my long fastball to help me win a gold medal,” said Moon, who was named to the Korean national team for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September after throwing a fastball over 160 kilometers per hour for the first time in his career.
‘Please don’t catch this ball….’
That’s what Moon Dong-ju, 20, a pitcher for the Korean baseball team Hanwha, used to think whenever he played catch with his father while he was in school. His father, Mr. Moon Jun-hum (49), a former national hammer thrower, would say, “Throw with all your might, because you can hit him,” and then catch the ball, which was traveling at over 140 kilometers per hour, without difficulty.
“I was upset that my father, who is a pitcher by profession but has never been a catcher, caught my ball so easily,” said Moon Dong-ju, who met his father during a visit to the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 27. I was scared of him and wanted him to avoid me, so I threw the ball faster naturally,” he said.
Moon threw a 160.1-kilometer-per-hour fastball on April 12 against the Gwangju KIA. He was the first Korean pitcher to throw a fastball over 160 kilometers per hour since 2011, when Sports2eye, the official statistical arm of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), began tracking fastballs.
It’s not just his fastball. Moon is 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA this season and is considered the No. 1 candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. He only pitched 28 and two-thirds innings last year when he joined Hanwha, so he still has rookie status in his second year as a professional.
“I realized that the most important thing in the pros is to take good care of my body and not overdo it,” Moon said. This year, I’m more happy that I’m doing my part by staying in the starting rotation than I am that I’m throwing over 160 kilometers per hour.”
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to improve his velocity. “Throwing at my own pace without pushing myself is the fastest and most reliable way to improve my average velocity. I will increase my velocity by at least 1-2 kilometers per hour every year.” If Moon achieves this goal, he will throw the fastest ball in KBO history. To date, the KBO’s fastest pitch record is held by LG foreign pitcher Liz (40), who clocked 162.1 mph in a September 24, 2012, game against SK (now SSG) in Munhak.
Moon used his fastball to win the national team title at the Hangzhou Asian Games, which begin in September. “At the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, we were the only team that didn’t make the national team, so I was hoping that any Hanwha player would make the team this time. I’m really happy that I made the team,” he said.
“I think it’s a good advantage for me as a pitcher because not everyone can have a fast ball over 160 kilometers per hour. This is my first international tournament representing my country, so no matter what situation I take the mound, I want to do my part by throwing hard-hitting pitches.” “The goal is of course to win,” he emphasized.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho, 50, has made a plan to protect his player by not allowing Moon to pitch more than 130 innings this season. That’s 130 innings, including the Asian Games. As a result, Moon is unlikely to take the mound after September.
Having pitched 88 innings so far, Moon said, “I think I have a limited number of innings left, which makes the remaining games in the league more precious. 고스톱 I want to get one more win before I go to the Asian Games and help the team advance to ‘fall baseball,'” he said.