NC Dinos pitcher Kim Tae-hyun (25). At the time of his arrival, he was the ‘unfulfilled promise’ everyone was talking about.
He joined NC with the first pick in the 2017 rookie draft and made a name for himself as one of the best left-handed pitchers in the Gyeongnam region during his high school career. He even caught the attention of American major league scouts early on. At the 11th Asian Youth Baseball Championship in Taichung, Taiwan, in 2016, along with Ko Woo-seok (now with the LG Twins), Lee Jung-hoo, Kim Hye-sung (now with the Kiwoom Heroes), and Kang Baek-ho (now with the KT Wiz), he pitched four innings of two-hit, four-walk, five-strikeout ball in the first game of the preliminary round against the Philippines, setting the stage for a cold victory. His aggressive pitching, backed by his imposing 1.88-meter physique, was sure to mesmerize the onlookers. NC, which paid 300 million won for his signing, had high hopes for him.
After going 4-4 with a 7.38 ERA in 15 games and 64⅔ innings in the Futures (second division) league in his first year, Kim chose to serve in the military with the police baseball team. He showed promise as a closer in his first year of enlistment, recording 13 saves in the Futures League, and it was expected that he would continue to perform well and contribute to the NC mound after his service.
But the wait was long. Even if he pitched well enough in the Futures to make it to the first team, it didn’t last long. He only pitched 1⅓ innings in two games in 2020 and 5⅓ innings in six games in 2021. Last year, he didn’t receive a single first-team call-up, going 4-4 with a 7.24 ERA in 46 innings pitched in 46 games for the Futures. His youth national team days and first-round draft pick during the so-called “Golden Generation” have been forgotten.
After finishing last season as a bullpen pitcher for the Geelong Korea of the Australian Baseball League (ABL), Kim showed promise with a 1-1 record, three saves, and a 2.20 ERA in 18 games. This year, the opportunity came unexpectedly. Plagued by mound tendon injuries, the NC scrambled to find replacements in the Futures, and Kim was given a chance. After briefly appearing in the first team after the opening day, Kim headed back to the Futures after a ten-day stint with the first team in May without pitching, but he was called up again on May 8. After tossing two scoreless innings with no hits and four strikeouts against Samsung Electronics on the 8th, Kim secured a spot in the bullpen the next day with one inning of scoreless relief against the Samsung lineup with one hit, one walk, and two strikeouts.
On the 25th, against the Changwon KIA. Kim Tae-hyun took the mound as the team’s third pitcher in the top of the seventh inning with the team trailing 0-3 and walked leadoff hitter Choi Won-jun. He gave up a walk to Kim Do-young, but struck out Kia’s veteran Na Sung-beom and Choi Hyung-woo to end the inning. In the next at-bat, the NC bats came back with Park Gun-woo’s push single and Jason Martin’s RBI single, giving Kim his first career win. Ryu Jin-wook in the eighth and Lee Yong-chan in the ninth preserved the lead, giving Kim an emotional victory seven seasons after his debut and 1001 days after his first appearance in the first team 꽁머니사이트.
“I came in with the team down 0-3, and all I could think about was not giving up a run to turn it around,” Kim said. Luckily, I was able to save the game and get the win,” he said. “It was the first win of my debut that I really wanted. I felt very sorry for the fans because it came too late,” he said, “I’m grateful to the fans for supporting me and waiting for my victory for a long time. I will use today’s victory as a springboard to win more games and work harder to become a valuable player for the team.”