‘Beijing Kids’ Yonsei captain Ko Kyung-pyo: “We made up for a lot of things that were lacking.”
College baseball in South Korea is a marginalized sport. Compared to high school, pro draft picks are fewer and far between. Some might even call it a loser’s bracket.
A year ago, only 18 of the 110 players selected in the KBO rookie draft were college players. If it weren’t for the system that requires teams to draft at least one college player, the results could have been even more disastrous, and many college players are still struggling to cross that narrow threshold. ‘Baseball Korea’ will introduce some of the dark horses of college baseball who are relatively under the radar ahead of the draft. The second protagonist after Son Seong-hyun is Ko Kyung-pyo (22), a third baseman at Yonsei University.
‘Beijing Kids’. The term refers to players who started playing baseball after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In fact, many boys across the country picked up a glove and bat after watching the Korean baseball team win the gold medal. Ko Kyung-pyo, who was just entering elementary school at the time, was one of them.
Yonsei third baseman Ko Kyung-pyo is emerging as a rookie draft dark horse. Photo: Baseball Korea
“I saw athletes playing in the Olympics and thought it looked so cool, so I talked to my dad and joined the Lions Little League team. I started playing baseball in earnest when I joined my elementary school’s baseball team in the fourth grade.” That’s how baseball came to be.
‘Unfinished business’ Kyungpyo Ko, Kyungpook National University
Ko Kyung-pyo at Gyeongbuk High School. Photo: Baseball Korea
After growing up as a promising prospect in the Daegu area, Ko enrolled at the prestigious Gyeongbuk High School. “I remember hitting a home run in a rivalry game against Daegu High School in my sophomore year,” he recalls, “because it was a game with a spot in the Golden Lion at stake. I came in as a substitute and hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
After playing primarily in the outfield until his sophomore year, Ko switched to the infield for his senior season. He showed off his offensive prowess. He batted .397 with three home runs. However, he was criticized for his infield defense, which ultimately prevented him from being nominated.
He was disappointed. “I was more calm than I thought, but I was still a little disappointed, because I didn’t get selected (in the draft) despite my good performance,” Ko recalled four years ago.
Yonsei’s Kyung-pyo Ko, the ‘offense-minded third baseman’
Ko Kyung-pyo, the captain of the Yonsei baseball team, dreams of entering the professional ranks with Choi Jeong-jeong as his role model. Photo by Baseball Korea
College baseball is different from high school because you have to juggle your studies. You have to take the same classes as other students, and it’s not easy to get together and train together during the semester. For Ko, it was a new opportunity. “Having more individual time gave me a chance to get to know myself better. I kept thinking about what kind of training I needed and what kind of training I should do,” he said.메이저놀이터
More free time instead of group training. “I worked on my defense, which was one of my weaknesses in high school. I improved my defense by playing infield defense professionally, and I also worked on my handling, focusing on the basics.” With consistent effort, Ko’s infield defense has become a strength that he can confidently boast about. The way he was viewed on the field also changed. One scout said, “A college third baseman with solid fundamentals. His throwing and throwing accuracy are strong,” and “his stability is impressive, which is hard to find in high school players.”
He also improved at the plate, especially in the Yonsei-Goryeo regular season. Last year, he had three hits to help win the game, and this year, he had two. The secret is to strengthen his lower body through weight training. As one scout put it, “He has a steady bat with no major ups and downs. If he improves his physical ability, he has potential in terms of power,” but noted that “he needs to work on his changeup.”
Ko Kyung-pyo is also the captain of the Yonsei baseball team in 2023. “As a captain, you have to think about the other players on the team, so I thought a lot about how to be more of a team with my juniors and teammates,” he said.
His role model is SSG Landers slugger Choi Jung (36). “I want to emulate her in both offense and defense. She is still the center of the team in both defense and hitting, and I want to grow into a beast like her.”
Baseball Korea is a specialized baseball magazine that covers Korean youth baseball, high school baseball, and student baseball, as well as KBO prospects, scouts, and the rookie draft. It is the Korean version of Baseball America and was founded in March 2019 and delivers rich baseball stories through offline monthly magazines, YouTube broadcasts, and online media. Baseball Korea aims to highlight the efforts of amateur baseball players and field baseball players who are sweating for their dreams and provide healthy motivation. In 2023, we will deliver the stories of many amateur players through ‘MK Sports’.