“(Jeon) Jun-pyo’s pitches were impressive, he threw a lot of strikes. The ball was also very good.”

Ahn “Ace” Woo-jin has left the team for military service. Now, the Kiwoom Heroes’ No. 1 starter is foreign pitcher Ariel Hurado (28-Panama).

Hurado came to Kiwoom in the 2023 season with a record of 11 wins (8 losses) and a 2.65 ERA. His innings pitched were particularly impressive, as he lasted 183.2 innings in 30 games, or 6.1 innings per game. As a result of his performance as a starter, Kiwoom has agreed to stay with Hurado for the 2024 season.

As of Aug. 28 (KST), Hurado was working hard to fulfill his responsibilities as the new No. 1 starter at Kium’s second spring training camp in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

On April 27, he started a scrimmage against Taiwanese professional team Zhongxin Brothers. Although he only pitched one inning, he struck out one, walked none, and finished the game on just 14 pitches. “It was my first start of the season, and I felt good,” he reflected.

On the same day, rookie pitcher Jun-pyo Jeon also pitched one inning of scoreless relief, striking out three. Jeon threw 10 pitches, six of which were in the strike zone. He also struck out the first batter he faced.

This impressed first baseman Hurado. “I was impressed with (Joon-pyo’s) stuff,” he said, “He threw a lot of strikes for a rookie, and his stuff was good,” he added, giving him a thumbs-up.

“Not only Jun-pyo, but all the rookies are good players. Even the veteran players are working hard to do better than last year. We are a very good team.”

He has also become very close with the newest foreign starter in Kiwoom, Enmanuel de Jesus. “The three of us get along really well,” Hurado said. “Especially since this is his first season in the KBO, he’s been telling me a lot about the Korean League. ‘How to handle hitters, how to pitch,’ and so on,” he said.

“It wasn’t easy to pitch a lot of innings last year, so I worked hard to do that,” he said, adding, “I tried to pitch six or seven innings in every game, and I’ll do that anytime if it helps the team win.” He smiled.

As for his personal goals for the 2024 season, he said, “Last year, I had 20 quality starts (QS – at least six innings and no more than three earned runs), so this year I want to have more QS.”

Finally, Furado said, “I feel a great responsibility as the No. 1 starter for our team. I’ll do my best to win as many games as possible,” he emphasized.

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