LG’s Baek Seung-hyun (28) reached a milestone with his first save in three years as a pitcher.
The shortstop-turned-pitcher, who succeeded Oh Ji-hwan (33), is starting to find success as a bullpen pitcher with a 150-kilometer fastball. Baek said he wants to emulate teammate Go Woo-seok (25).
Seung-hyun Baek pitched in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the score 3-2 against Samsung at Jamsil Stadium on Thursday. When Ham Deok-ju, who was scheduled to close out the ninth inning, walked and made an error, manager Yoon Kyung-yup replaced him with Baek Seung-hyun.
With the bases loaded, he faced the opposition’s No. 4 center fielder, Kang Min-ho. With the pressure on, Baek Seung-hyun struck out Kang Min-ho with a sharp slider. With the bases loaded, Seung-Hyun Baek hit Kim Dong-yeop straight to shortstop to preserve the one-run victory. With the win, Baek Seung-hyun earned his first career save.
Selected by LG in the third round of the 2015 draft (30th overall), Baek Seung-hyun completed his military service early upon joining the organization. He made his first-team debut in 2017. Although he was evaluated as the shortstop to succeed Oh Ji-hwan, Baek was not given many first-team opportunities.
He made just 28 appearances in three seasons between 2017 and 2019. His breakthrough came after the 2019 season, when he participated in the Australian Professional Baseball League with Geelong Korea. In January 2020, he threw a 154-kilometer fastball during a game in Australia.
After playing shortstop for the Geelong Korea in the 2020 season, Baek made a decision halfway through the season. He switched to pitching.
“After going to Geelong Korea, I felt a wall in the first half of the season while playing as a fielder. I thought I was lacking a lot. It was both batting and defense. I felt like I could only be in the second team as an outfielder. My goal was to play baseball in the first team, so I decided to switch to pitching with the mindset of doing something for the last time.”
The experience and results of pitching for Geelong Korea inspired him to take on a new challenge. As a hitter, Baek had a career batting average of 2-for-1 with 19 RBIs in 89 at-bats and a .547 OPS through the 2020 season.
He spent the second half of the 2020 season working on his pitching fundamentals and didn’t appear in any second-team games. In the 2021 season, he pitched in the Futures League to gain experience. On June 5, 2021, he made his professional debut as a pitcher against the Gwangju KIA. On that day, he threw a 153-kilometer fastball with an average velocity of 151 kilometers per hour.
In the 2021 season, he appeared in 16 games 스포츠토토 as a pitcher in the first team and showed promise with a 2.16 ERA in one hold. However, he underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow after the season. In 2022, he struggled in the first team with a 10.80 ERA in 12 games.
“I have no regrets about switching to pitching,” Baek said. “I was a little worried about how I would survive because (LG’s bullpen) was strong, but I tried to hold on with the thought of ‘let’s survive once’ because I couldn’t go back.”
Manager Yoon Kyung-yeop, who took over as LG’s manager last fall, identified Baek as a bullpen prospect. He was used as a long-relief option in spring training and pitched three consecutive scoreless games out of the bullpen early in the season. However, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury on April 10 and returned to the first team on April 4. He missed about two months.
“I was disappointed, but I promised myself that I would never get sick again. I was sick then, but I think I prepared a lot,” Baek said.
When asked if he had any role models, Baek said, “I look up to Woo Seok-i a lot… He’s been pitching in important situations since he was a kid, so he has a lot of experience, and he throws the best ball in the team, so I always stay by his side and ask him a lot.” “I want to learn how to exercise and take care of my body, and I tend to follow him a lot,” he said.