Saturday, July 18, 2009

Something Special about Doosan Catchers?

Something Special about Doosan Catchers?

From Seoul Yonhap News, Translated by Simon Kim

With both regular catchers Jin Gap-yong, 35, and Hyun Jae-yun, 30, out with injuries, the Samsung Lions brought in Doosan Bears catcher Chae Sang-byung, 30, for left handed pitcher Ji Seung-min, who was sent to Doosan on the 16th of this month.

On this same day, the LG Twins, reacting to catcher Kim Jeong-min's injuries, brought in Lee Kyeong-hwan, 26, who was put on waivers by the Bears.

Actually, this trend of going to Doosan to solve catcher issues is something that's been happening for some time.

There are quite a few catchers playing in the Korean Baseball Organization now that have their roots with the Doosan organization.

Injured Doosan starter Jin Gap-yong, in his 11th year as a Lion, is actually a former Doosan player.

Considered a Korean baseball catching legend, Jin actually entered the league in 1997 with the then OB Bears and was traded to Samsung in 1999.

And Lotte Giants catcher Kang Min-ho, 24, along with his teammate Choi Ki-Moon, 36, are both former Doosan products.

Choi came into the league in 1996 in an OB Bears uniform and was traded to Lotte in 1998.

Kang became Lotte's starting catcher in 2006 because of Choi's injuries, but Choi is showing resurgence in talent this year at his age.

Hanhwa Eagles offensive catcher Lee Do-hyong, 34, also spent a long time in a Doosan uniform.

Lee entered the OB organization in 1994 right after high school and moved on to the Eagles in 2002 bringing his very nice batting skills with him.

Including Doosan, LG, Hanhwa, Samsung, and Lotte, a total of 5 teams have either starting or back-up catchers who have experience in the Doosan organization.

Doosan is becoming known as a "Korean Pro Baseball Catchers' Academy" to some.

The reason for this success with catchers is said to be the growth orientated coaching styles of the Doosan organization.

A member of the Doosan organization states: "training catchers is not an easy task, first you must effectively scout and obtain raw talent, then work on long term development."

Batting coach Kim Tae-hyeong, at his post since 1990, explains further: "you obtain your talent first, then you allow them to compete with each other to allow them to improve."

This is what Kim and Samsung Lions manager Kim Kyong-mun have been doing for many years. In 10 year spans, catchers like Choi Ki-moon, Jin Gap-yong, Hong Song-heung (32, Lotte) were scouted from very early ages and put into intensive competitive training programs.

Kim Tae-yeong adds: "Kim Kyong-mun was a catcher, and it's become this team's nature to focus on good catching."

Samsung has had bad trades in the past, bringing in poorly performing players. But Kim Kyong-mun always had a hands-management style emphasising each player's strong points.

This management style allowed players to bring out talent they didn't know they had.

Kim Tae-hyeong says again: "Kim Kyong-mun's style would probably work with other teams. Improving on strong points and supplementing weaker points, it is hard for the players but the players thank him when the players find themselves improving."

Kim Tae-hyeong adds "when I see our former catchers succeeding with other teams, I feel good. It's indeed a strike against us, but each player must perform the best he can for his present team."

Kim Tae-yong wishes these catchers well with their current teams. And he also wishes well Chae Sang-byung, who will be competing with the two injured catchers when they return to the Samsung Lions line-up.

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