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(2nd LD) Teen slugger voted top rookie in S. Korean baseball

Sports 15:10 November 19, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS voting breakdown in para 4)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- Teen phenom Kang Baek-ho was voted the top rookie in South Korean professional baseball for 2018 on Monday.

The 19-year-old outfielder for the KT Wiz won the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Rookie of the Year award in a landslide. Kang earned 514 voting points out of a maximum 555 points in a media vote. Nexen Heroes' infielder Kim Hye-seong was a distant second with 161 points.

A first-place vote was five points, and a second-place vote was good for three points. A third-place vote was worth one point.

Kang picked up 99 out of 111 first-place votes. The Hanwha Eagles' pitcher Park Sang-won had three first-place votes, but he ended up fifth overall with 44 points. Kim Hye-seong had two first-place votes but earned 44 second-place votes.

In this file photo from April 3, 2018, Kang Baek-ho of the KT Wiz (R) runs toward first base after hitting a grounder against the Nexen Heroes during the top of the third inning in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The first overall pick in last year's draft led all freshmen with 29 home runs -- one shy of the all-time rookie record -- and 84 RBIs, while putting up a robust .290/.356/.524 line. He also scored 108 runs, one of 10 players to surpass the century mark in that department.

Kang famously homered in his very first at-bat on Opening Day on March 24. It was also the first home run by anyone in the league in the 2018 season.

Kang was a two-way star in high school but decided to focus on hitting as a pro.

The Wiz went through a managerial change after the regular season, and Kang thanked his former skipper, Kim Jin-wook, for putting him in a position to succeed right away.

"Everyone on the coaching staff and my teammates helped me so much along the way," Kang said after receiving his trophy. "I am not going to be content with just winning this award. I want to become a player who can get better every season."

Kang Baek-ho of the KT Wiz speaks after receiving the Korea Baseball Organization's Rookie of the Year award during a ceremony in Seoul on Nov. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)


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