KIA outfield prospect Byun Woo-hyuk (23) hit another home run against his hometown team Hanwha. KIA continued its pleasant jinx with a 100 percent winning percentage on days when Byun Woo-hyuk hits a home run.
Byun Woo-hyuk batted sixth and hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning against Hanwha in Daejeon on April 20, helping KIA to a 6-4 victory. With the bullpen giving up three runs in the ninth inning, Byun’s home run proved to be the decisive factor in the victory.
After hitting a grounder to shortstop in his first at-bat against Han Seung-ju in the second inning and reaching first base on a throwing error, Byun struck out swinging in the fourth. His bat came up empty on a five-pitch slider from Han Seung-ju.
But in the sixth inning, with a 3-1 lead, he hit a home run in his third at-bat. With runners on first and second, he faced Hanwha left-hander Jung Woo-ram on a full count. After fouling off a changeup in the sixth, he pulled a 119-kilometer changeup on the outside in the seventh, sending it over the left field fence.
It traveled 120 meters and was his sixth home run of the season. It was the game-winning hit that extended the score to 6-1 in favor of KIA. It was his second consecutive home run after hitting one against the Gwangju NC on April 18, continuing his recent upswing.
Byun Woo-hyuk, a native of Cheonan Bukil High School, was drafted by his hometown team Hanwha in the first round of the 2019 draft. After his first season, he enlisted in the military to serve in the commercial sector and returned, but was traded to KIA after last season. KIA sent two pitchers, Han Seung-hyuk and Jang Ji-soo, in exchange for Byun Woo-hyuk, a military-grade outfield prospect.
In 44 games this season so far, Woo-hyuk is batting .704 (27-for-116) with six home runs, 20 RBIs, and an OPS of .704. Despite his low batting average, his six home runs make up for his lack of power. All six home runs have come in close games with two runs or less, which is nutritious. KIA hasn’t lost a game in the six games Byun has homered, going 5-1.
The “Byun Woo-hyuk boomerang” must be frustrating for Hanwha, which ranks 10th in team batting average (.330). Byun also hit a solo home run off Jang Min-jae in the fifth inning of a 4-2 win over Hanwha in Daejeon last month. Two of Kia’s three wins against Hanwha this year (out of four) have come courtesy of Byun’s home runs. 안전놀이터
Byun has only had 61 at-bats in the first team in both 2019 and 2022. Last year, he had a back injury and was traded from Hanwha after not receiving enough opportunities. This year, however, he came to KIA and totaled 127 at-bats without ever going to the second team. He struggled through May, batting in the low teens (.187), but in June he exploded with all that experience.
In 11 games in June, Byun has exploded with a 4-for-10 (25 RBI), two home runs, six RBI, and a 1.144 OPS. After the game, Byun said, “I’ve been hitting well lately. Before the game, I trained to hit the ball to the right-center field line, which led to good results. I’m doubly happy that the team won as well.” “I’m preparing with the idea of showing my strengths to the fullest while starting. I want to continue to produce long balls and be the player the team needs. I will work harder this season to help the team advance to fall baseball.”