“I want to become a good player myself and set an example for the younger players (later).”
Shin Young-woo, the NC Dinos’ “super rookie” who is growing up fast, shared his goals.
Shin Young-woo is a highly touted right-hander from Gyeongnam High School who was selected by NC with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2023 rookie draft. His strengths include a fastball that exceeds 150km/h and a breaking ball with a lot of change, and in recognition of his potential, he spent the off-season in the first team spring training.
What’s even scarier is that Shin’s baseball career is shorter than most players his age – he started playing relatively late, in his freshman year of middle school, and didn’t take the mound professionally until high school. This means that his potential is endless.
“I started pitching professionally when I was in high school,” Shin told reporters during a personal workout after the Futures (second team) 안전놀이터 League game against Sangmu, which was scheduled to be held at Masan Baseball Stadium on the 1st, was canceled due to rain. “I always liked pitching, and I think I have more advantages in pitching, so I chose it,” he said, explaining why he made the decision.
Shin Young-woo came to pitching rather late in life, but when did his redemption begin? The guidance of his high school coach, Jeong Soo-chan of Gyeongnam High School, definitely played a role in this.
“I’ve always had a better fastball than my friends around me,” Shin said. “I think pitching coach Jung Soo-chan gave me a very good foundation in high school. I didn’t have a lot of experience in baseball, so I lacked a lot of those things, but he paid a lot of attention to the balance part. I’ve been practicing and throwing (as instructed by the coach) for about seven or eight months, and I’ve gained nine kilometers,” he said with gratitude.
Recognized for his early talent, Shin was invited to represent Korea at the 2022 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in the United States in September last year as a high school junior.
“I played baseball with a group of friends who were the best in my age group,” he says. I realized that my skills were not as good as theirs. I learned a lot. I realized that I need to work harder,” he said. “I think I’ll be less nervous when I play in bigger tournaments in the future because I’ve already played in big tournaments. It was a good experience.”
As mentioned earlier, Shin worked out at the first team spring camp during the off-season this year. This experience also pushed him to the next level.
“I was training with first-team seniors like Ki Rah-sung, and I couldn’t believe it. The seniors and my brothers helped me adapt a lot. “I realized that I needed to work harder,” he said, “I watched the seniors train and asked them a lot of questions, and it was a great experience just to be there. I think it was a great experience just to be there.”
Many of the seniors, especially right-hander Lee Yong-jun, reportedly helped Shin adjust during spring training. Yong-jun, who has been anchoring the NC starting lineup this year, is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA through three games.
Shin Young-woo said, “During spring training, (Lee) Yong-joon played catch with my brother. He caught a lot of balls. It was my first time at the camp and I was a little nervous because it was an unfamiliar environment, but (Lee) Yong-joon showed me what to do and gave me a lot of advice when I was playing catch. As the days of the camp went by, I felt more comfortable throwing the ball and I was able to grow a lot.”
Shin is still learning the ropes in the Futures League, having yet to make his first team debut. But even with so much talent, the road to the pros is not without its challenges.
“Compared to high school, I felt that physical fitness was the most important thing. In high school, there are competitions and games a few times a month, but in the pros, there are games every day,” he said, emphasizing the importance of physical fitness. “Because the level of the pros is higher, I’m trying to improve and overcome my deficiencies one by one,” he added.
Shin has been a regular in the starting rotation in the Futures League, and while he had a rough April, he has gradually shown his true colors in May with his outstanding strikeout performance.
“The environment was different, so there were things I missed. I was shaky, but my coaches and older brothers gave me a lot of advice,” he said, adding that his pitching hasn’t been bad in May. “I thought it wouldn’t be bad to have a similar feeling to my high school days if I wanted to pitch as well as I did in high school. So I went back to my high school form and created my own rhythm. I think finding that rhythm gave me repeatedly good results, and little by little, the results have been good.”
Of course, with so much experience under his belt, Shin is by no means a complete pitcher. As of three days ago, Shin’s Futures League record was 1-3 with a 4.44 ERA, and while he struck out 33 batters in 26.1 innings pitched, he also walked 31 batters. In his most recent outing, against Sangsung on March 31, he gave up two runs on eight hits and three walks in three innings.
Shin said, “There are days when I don’t pitch well. “It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t get through it,” he said, “but yesterday (May 31) went in a bad direction. You have to have the ability to work through bad days. There will be bad games in the future, but I want to handle them well. I want to be a player without ups and downs.”
“I’m still in the process of finding my own rhythm, my own balance. I think I’ve taken the first step. “I think I’ve taken the first step, and if I keep getting better, I’ll be able to reduce my strikeouts and get good results like I’ve been doing lately.” “I think I’m still not good enough, but I need to play more games and gain more experience.
After watching Shin Young-woo pitch recently, NC manager Kang In-hwa said, “He seems to be working the count with his breaking ball and striking out with his fastball and splitter, but I’d like him to pitch more with his fastball and utilize his speed (fastball) strength over his breaking ball.” In other words, he wants him to utilize his fastball, which is his biggest strength.
Shin replied, “I think the coach is right. First of all, the fact that I use a lot of changeups means that I have difficulty with fastballs.” He analyzed, “I have a certain amount of changeups, but I still have difficulty with fastballs, so it may be that the percentage of changeups is increasing.”
“I know that if I work on my fastball, which is my problem right now, and use my fastball to get ahead in the count, I can get good results. Like the coach said, I’m working on my fastball mechanics so that I can take advantage of the fastball and pitch efficiently.”
Regarding his fastball, which is one of his strengths, Shin said, “When I threw it with a big look at the center, I saw that the batters missed, so I felt that my delivery was good.” The NC team also decided early on that they wanted to maximize the strength of his fastball, rather than trying to compensate for his weaknesses.
“(NC Future Team manager) Gong Pil-sung and pitching coach Son Jung-wook don’t talk much about strikeouts,” Shin said. “(Manager Gong Pil-sung) says, ‘Don’t worry too much about strikeouts because they’re not given to you. You have the ability to catch (pitches) just as well as you did when you were good enough, so you have to throw (the ball) confidently and think about catching pitches. He said, ‘If you choose to avoid it, you’re going to get stuck in your growth process,'” he said.
“I’m sure there’s a part of him that’s thinking about the outcome of the game, but more than that, he believes in me and is patient with my process and tells me my strengths. I’m really grateful for the confidence he instills in me. I want to repay him by becoming a pitcher with good performance and good results,” said Shin Young-woo, who also expressed his gratitude to coach Gong Pil-sung. He is currently focusing on creating his own routine along with his pitches.
“People around me told me that it’s important to accumulate things like routines in the first year, so I’m preparing to be a starting pitcher by watching how my brothers do it and accumulating routines,” he said. “I don’t know much because it’s my first year as a professional, but the four trainers (in the NC Future Team) have been watching me for a long time, so they gave me a lot of advice. That helped me get my routine down a little bit,” he said.
His teammates Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles) and Yoon Young-cheol (KIA Tigers) are still playing in the first team despite being in their rookie seasons. For Young-woo Shin, this is a great source of motivation and inspiration.
“In the beginning, my mind was ahead of me, so when I saw my teammates, I thought, ‘I want to go up there and throw as soon as possible’ and ‘I’m envious of them,'” Shin said. “But they are much better than me, and they are proving it with their results in the first team. I would be grateful if they called me up now, but I don’t want to rush up there and embarrass the team and look bad. I’m sure the club and the coach have their own ideas. I think it’s my job to stick to that plan, prepare myself as well as I am now and wait for the opportunity to come,” he emphasized.
He also mentioned Moon Hyun-bin (Hanwha) as a player he would like to catch in the first team. “He (Moon) told me that he would like to face my ball again in the past. In high school, I struck out against him. It would be fun to see it again in the professional stage.” He added, “(Moon) is the hardest working player I’ve ever seen. He used to strike out with a splitter, but I think he’s going for a splitter this time, so I’ll try to strike him out with a fastball,” he said with a confident smile.
When I talk about Shin Young-woo to the NC team officials, starting with manager Lim Sun-nam, they all praise him as a player who will become big. Above all, they praise his work ethic.
Shin Young-woo responded, “I’m grateful that they think so highly of me. I’ve been like that since I was a kid, and I don’t like to lose habitually. “For me, work ethic is about doing what you have to do as an athlete. It’s my job to take care of my body, prepare for matches, and perform well. I try to focus on what I need to do as much as possible, and if I’m not doing enough, I try to do more. I think I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and it’s why I’m getting good reviews now,” he smiled.
On his goals for this year, he says, “I want to make sure I’m good enough so that when a good opportunity comes along, I can grab it. As the coach said, I want to prepare well to maximize my strengths and compensate for my weaknesses as much as possible so that I can reward the fans with good game results.” Who are his role models?
“Within the team, it’s (Song) Myung-ki-hyung. (He took good care of me when I came down to the Future Team recently,” he said, adding, “The seniors playing in the league are too great and admirable to pick one person (overall), so rather than picking one person, I want to be a good player myself and become a player who can set an example for many juniors (in the future).” His eyes sparkled.
“I’m preparing well,” he concluded. Sometimes it’s unfortunate that I couldn’t reciprocate with good match results,” he said. “I will refine (my skills) well and reciprocate with good match results at Changwon NC Park (where the first team plays). I hope you will believe and support us,” he said to the fans.