The thing I care about the most when recruiting foreign players, who account for an absolute portion of their power, is injury. They are players who can be expected to perform to a certain extent without injury, but how healthy they run often determines the farming for the year.

Injuries are something no one could have predicted. So what each club looks at is ‘how many injuries have there been so far’. Players who have had a lot of injuries are more likely to have them again. Hanwha is also a team that suffered from such an injury risk. There is an example of Nick Kingham (31), who started this year together right away. Kingham is an injury-prone player in his career, and in the end he never got over that wall.

The level of pitching was so attractive that SK (now SSG) also recruited Kingham despite knowing about his injury history. He had the ability to play as a complete starter. However, he was eventually removed after only playing in two games due to an injury in 2020, and after returning to Korea, he underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment in his elbow. Usually, it is common for such players not to be re-recruited, but Hanwha was a little different. In 2021, he makes a decision to re-enlist Kingham.

Kingham threw 144 innings in 25 games in 2021, leaving a high-level performance of 10-8 with an average ERA of 3.19. However, he could not be considered to have completed full-time due to an injury, and in the end in 2022 due to an injury to the upper arm muscle, he was out. Kingham played only three games before being substituted. No matter how good a thrower he was, there was no point in him not being able to throw.

On the 18th, Hanwha officially announced that it had signed a contract with right-hander Birch Smith (32) for a total of $1 million (down payment of $100,000, annual salary of $700,000, and incentive of $200,000). Smith is a familiar player to foreign scouts and agents in the KBO League, to the extent that he was on the list of several clubs. His pitch is so charming. He debuted in the major leagues in 2013 and played in 102 games (13 starts) in the major leagues alone, and his career is also at a high level.

As of 2020, Smith’s four-seam fastball average speed reached 94.4 miles, and in 2021 he recorded 93.4 miles. His four-seam average velocity in 2018, his most started, was 93.2 mph. Hanwha’s explanation of “Fireballer with a maximum speed of 155 km/h” is not wrong. He is 193 cm tall and has a high RBI, and his ability to pull the ball out is also good. As of 2021, Smith’s extension was 6.8 feet, which was a good number in the top 12% of the major leagues. 스포츠토토

As the ball with high RBI is dragged out from the front as much as possible and formed, the sensational speed that batters feel is bound to be excellent. This is the reason why he can boast of the best strikeout ability and false swing induction rate among foreign players currently coming to Korea. However, the reason why there was not much competition before signing Smith was the risk of injury. This year, when he played in Japan right away, he was out of line for a long time due to quite a lot of injuries.

The long hiatus of Smith’s career, from 2015 to 2016, was all due to injury. During this time he underwent elbow ligament reconstructive surgery (Tommy John Surgery) and continued to have elbow problems. The elbow is a field that has been relatively conquered, but it is a risk to continue to have injuries regardless of the upper and lower body after that. Perhaps it could be compared to Kingham, who underwent Tommy John surgery around the same time as Smith.

As Hanwha must have conducted a thorough physical examination, it must have decided that it was worth taking the risk of injury in its own way. The probability of statistical recurrence of players with many injuries would also have been reviewed. However, the so-called ‘injury prons’ often ended in injuries. If he throws healthily, he is a player with all the talent and skills of a first-class starter, but if he doesn’t, it can be a headache again. It is a winning move towards the last place. Hanwha fans are expecting that choice to return to the jackpot.