“I don’t know when the opportunity will come, but I’ll be there for it”…Lotte’s ‘reverse-opener’ from the second team’s ‘home run king’
“I don’t know when the opportunity will come, but I will prepare well for it”
The Lotte Giants officially announced on the 22nd that they have signed outfielder Kook Hae-sung, stating in the background, “As a switch-hitter who can create his own runs, Kook Hae-sung will help us strengthen our outfield depth and utilize our pinch-hitting resources.”
A graduate of Incheon High School, Kook Hae-sung began his professional career with the Doosan Bears as a developmental player in 2008 after failing to be selected by any club in the rookie draft, and made his first appearance in 2012. A switch-hitter, Kook’s biggest strength is his long ball. He has shown his ‘one-hit’ ability by hitting double-digit home runs on two occasions, including the 2019 Futures League Northern League Home Runs title.
His career-high season in the first team came in 2016, when he played in 58 games, hitting .278 with 42 hits, four home runs, 24 RBIs, 28 runs scored, and 28 runs batted in, helping Doosan win the title that year. However, injuries prevented him from playing a full season, and he declared himself a future free agent after the 2021 season, but no teams came calling.
Hae-sung Kook hung up his jersey after playing in 214 games over eight professional seasons with 99 hits, 11 home runs, 66 RBIs, and a .238 batting average, but he never let go of the baseball. Since 2022, Kook Hae-sung has been playing for the independent Seongnam MacPies, trying to get back into the professional ranks, which led him to join Lotte.
It was a “reverse offense” that brought him to Lotte. Kook Hae-sung, who had been steadily building his body and maintaining his practical skills with the Seongnam MacPies, requested a ‘test’ through an acquaintance at Lotte, and was contacted by Lotte on the 19th. He held a tryout before the Lotte-SSG Landers game on the 20th.
When contacted by ‘My Daily,’ Kook Hae-sung said, “There was talk about the test a few days ago. I contacted Lotte first. I was playing a game on Friday (19th) and was told, ‘Come to resign by 12 noon on Saturday (20th).’ I was contacted on Friday, and I rushed to Sajik to take the test,” he explained.먹튀검증
Kook Hae-sung’s career has had many twists and turns, including joining the franchise as an undrafted player and playing in an independent league. “It was a little difficult in that sense because the environment in the independent league was poor, but coach Shin and the coaches gave me a lot of consideration. When I was training, I didn’t even think about how hard it was, and I was grateful. Now that I’m wearing the Lotte uniform, I think I should do well with a new mindset,” he smiled.
He received many congratulatory calls from people around him. Kook Hae-sung said, “Director Sung Min-kyu told me, ‘I think you can do well, let’s do well together.’ It’s hard to choose the person who congratulated me the most. I received so many congratulations from friends, acquaintances, seniors and juniors. I also received a lot of phone calls and messages,” he laughs.
Lotte has been showing signs of looking to the future lately. In exchange for Lee Ho-yeon, who was performing well in the second team but had no place in the first team, they acquired left-handed reliever Shim Jae-min, who could prove invaluable as a late-inning pinch-hitter, bolstering a depth that was weakened by the loss of key outfielders like Hwang Sung-bin and Jack Rex to injury.
He has succeeded in returning to the professional ranks, but he will have to prove himself to be competitive in order to keep the ‘professional’ title. His physical condition is not a problem as he played in the independent league. It’s just that he’s had a year off. In the independent leagues, it’s not easy to get used to the speed and changeups of the professional level, so he needs to prepare for that. Guk Hae-seong is not unaware of this.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said, “but the clubs have to realize that the pitches of professional players are different from those of independent league players. In the independent leagues, you have to play a lot of games, but only two or three times a week. The club also said, ‘You need to experience professional players at a higher level, get a feel for them, and prepare for them,'” he said.
For now, Kook Hae-sung will travel to Gimhae Sangdong Stadium on the 22nd to begin his preparation in earnest. He said, “I will join the Sangdong Stadium today. I will prepare by playing in the second team,” he said, “I don’t know when the opportunity will come to me. I don’t know when the opportunity will come to me, but I will prepare well for that time,” he said emphatically.