At KIA’s spring training camp in 2022, Yoon Do-hyun (20) was as highly anticipated as super rookie Kim Do-young. Yoon was a right-handed batting infielder who was considered a rival to Kim at Gwangju First High School. His skills were naturally compared to Kim Do-young, who graduated from Dongseong Middle and Dongseong High School.
Kim Do-young was expected to be the protagonist of “Moon Kim-dae” (Hanwha Moon Dong-joo) even before he joined the team. However, KIA internally decided that Yoon Do-hyun also had the potential to become a big infielder. Like Kim, he can play every position in the infield except first base. His feet are a little slower than Kim’s, but he has better long batting power.
In the actual spring training game, he drew attention for being quite strong for a rookie. In a practice game against KT in Gijang, he pushed a fastball that was full on the outside to score a single and a double. At the time, a former manager said, “Yoon Do-hyun has the ability to push and hit. It’s hard for a rookie to hit like that. He also has good athleticism.”
However, Yoon’s debut year was a trial. On March 14, he fractured the metacarpal bone in his right hand after colliding with Kim Do-young while handling a hit by Oh Jae-il of Daegu Samsung Electronics in an exhibition game. He ended up losing his entire 2022 season. He didn’t even play a single game in the Futures League.
This year, he also suffered a hamstring injury and had to rehabilitate for a while. Realizing the plain truth that a professional athlete’s body is an asset, he’s been making small appearances in the Futures League recently. In 11 games, he went 9-for-38 with a .237 batting average, three home runs, six RBIs, and a .724 OPS. Avery proved once again that he can hit after falling.
Manager Kim Jong-kook initially said he had no intention of rushing Yoon Do-hyun to the first team, but he made a surprise call-up against the Gwangju LG on April 28. After third baseman Byun Woo-hyuk made an early error, he boldly inserted Yoon Do-hyun into the defense at third base in the top of the third inning. He didn’t have a single at-bat until the second inning of the sixth, but he handled Oh Ji-hwan’s fly ball well. However, in his first at-bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, he swung wildly at a curveball from LG’s Im Chan-kyu and struck out.
Crucially, in the top of the seventh inning, he failed to catch a fly ball that flew into foul territory at third base by leadoff hitter Park Dong-won. He didn’t catch the drop zone properly. It was an ordinary pitch, but he was too close to the dugout and ended up flying over and missing it. It was a moment of inexperience. In the bottom of the seventh inning, he was replaced by Kim Kyu-sung.
He couldn’t get a hit in the first inning. Kim Do-young also made some inexperienced plays in the offense when he first experienced the first team in April last year. Middle to high school and the professional second team, professional second team and professional first team are different stages. Yoon Do-hyun needs time. Coach Kim Jong-kook may give him enough time as an all-weather backup.
The question now is whether Yoon can stay in the first team until Kim Do-young, who injured his ankle against SSG Incheon on April 2, returns between late June and early July. If Yoon stays in the first team until then, it will be interesting to see how he performs in a friendly competition or coexistence with Kim Do-young.
Kim Do-young and Yoon Do-hyun’s roles overlap. 스포츠토토 Yoon’s promotion to the first team was a result of the expungement of Hong Jong-pyo, but Hong was a backup alongside Kim Kyu-sung. Add to that the fact that the main third baseman, Ryu Ji-hyuk, has been feeling a bit under the weather lately and missed the game on the 27th, and didn’t even bat on the 28th, and you have an opportunity for Yoon Do-hyun.
This means that Yoon will have to overcome a lot of competition to establish himself as a backup, apart from adjusting to the first team. There are no guarantees that he will survive until Kim returns. If he survives until Kim returns, he’s already passed the first gate. Of course, for Yoon Do-hyun, the bottom is the main battlefield, and even if he goes down to the second team, he can gain practical experience for the future.
If the two super-sized rookie infielders who dominated the Gwangju Amayagu can play together in the first team, KIA fans have a reason to be excited for July.