At his first batter’s box last year, he displayed impressive performance with two RBIs and a timely two-base hit. With his outspoken bat, he imprinted his presence on the fans. These are the stories of Park Han-kyul (20), the future of the outfield at NC Dinosaurs. Park focused on defense and batting basics during the offseason to make up for his shortcomings. As the saying goes, “Effort never betrays,” he exudes confidence in Park’s voice. His direction is also clear. “Courage 100 points, perfect spirit,” Park wants to walk the path of “Hotajun.”꽁머니지급
“I was excited and excited because it was my first time at the camp, but when I arrived, it was different,” said Park Han-kyul, who met at Enexfield in Tucson Reed Park in Arizona on the 12th (Korea time), where the NC spring camp is in full swing. Looking at the seniors, I realized, “I didn’t come to play,” he said. “I’m preparing for the next season with no excitement.”
Park Han-kyul joined the NC Dinosaurs as the 14th overall pick in the second round of the 2023 Rookie Draft. He played in 12 games last year, posting a batting average of 0.333, one homer and five RBIs. Notably, he played as a big guard at the top of the 10th inning against the Doosan Bears in Changwon on Sept. 24 last year, and led his team to come from behind to win at his first batter’s box in the bottom of the 11th inning when his team was losing 3-5. Park displayed his solid presence.
“At that time, I entered the batter’s box thinking, ‘Let’s not just play double play, let’s be out alone even if we’re out’. I was embarrassed because the opponent’s pitcher was not the ball I was looking at,” he said. “I kept throwing breaking balls and saw a pitcher shake his head a lot at one point. So, I aimed for the right timing with confidence that this is definitely a fastball. I was really lucky,” he recalled his first hit since his debut.
“I have learned a lot from this camp and am growing up. In preparation for the season, I am thoroughly preparing for the event when I played as a substitute as well as defense.
“In my opinion, I am focusing on preparing for that one-stroke penalty because I believe that I will be a pinch hitter this year. When I enter the batter’s box, I have been training to respond to the first pitch repeatedly,” Park said. “Coach Jeon Min-soo said that the first pitch is important when he is a pinch hitter. In the first pitch, I told him not to think about hitting the ball, but to hit right away.” “Actually, I think hitting is all I have to trust in myself. I think it’s mental rather than skills, but I’m confident in hitting.”
NC’s outfield is so solid. Prominent players such as Son Ah-seop, Park Gun-woo, Kwon Hee-dong, Kim Sung-wook and Choi Jung-won are holding out. It is also the most competitive place.
“There are so many legendary seniors, so it’s very positive for me. It motivates me while learning from below, and it’s a great opportunity just to exercise together because my seniors taught me a lot,” Park Han-gyeol said. “In defense, I’m only doing artificial grass, but I’m adapting to natural grass. The ball jumps out, but I’m training carefully on that part.”
He clearly has a clear direction to take. He called his specialty “long hitting and fast feet.” If he wants to play a full season, his goal is to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, which are symbolic of the “Hotajun people.” This is why Eric Thames, the only foreign hitter in the KBO league history to have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases from a 20-year-old rookie to an NC Dinosaurs.
“My specialty is that I am strong, but I am also quick with my feet. Actually, I was thinking about finding my own color, whether it is slugging or stealing, but I will do well in both,” Park said. “When I was an elementary school student, I saw Thames score 40-40 points. It was amazing. My goal is to achieve 20-20 if I play a full season,” he stressed. “I will hit the most home runs since the opening of NC Park.”