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(LEAD) Teen right-hander So Hyeong-jun voted KBO's top rookie

Sports 15:16 November 30, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo, voting breakdown in para 6)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- Teen sensation So Hyeong-jun was voted the year's best rookie in South Korean baseball on Monday.

So Hyeong-jun, the 19-year-old right-hander for the KT Wiz, topped the voting for the Rookie of the Year award in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

So received his trophy at a ceremony in Seoul held without fans or media because of coronavirus restrictions.

So earned 511 points out of a maximum 560 points, well ahead of the runner-up, LG Twins outfielder Hong Chang-ki, who collected 185 points.

The first-place vote was worth five points, and the second-place and third-place votes were worth three points and one point, respectively.

So received 98 first-place votes and seven second-place votes. Hong had three first-place votes, 49 second-place votes and 23 third-place votes.

In this file photo from Oct. 3, 2020, So Hyeong-jun of the KT Wiz pitches against the LG Twins in the top of the second inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Drafted out of high school, So went 13-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 starts and two relief appearances. So led all freshmen with those 13 wins, which tied him with Park Jong-hun of the SK Wyverns for most by a South Korean starter this year.

So served up just six home runs in 133 innings, and none after June 14.

He was one of the league's best starters in the second half, posting a 8-1 record and a 2.50 ERA over his final 68 1/3 innings.

KT Wiz pitcher So Hyeong-jun gives an acceptance speech after being named the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Rookie of the Year during an awards ceremony in Seoul on Nov. 30, 2020, in this photo provided by the KBO. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

With So emerging as a key rotation piece, the Wiz set a franchise record with 81 wins and qualified for the postseason for the first time since joining the KBO in 2015.

"It's a huge honor to win this award. You only get to win the top rookie prize once in your career," So said after accepting his trophy. "I'd like to thank my manager, Lee Kang-chul, for giving me the opportunity to start. I also want to thank my teammates for helping me on and off the field."

So is the second Wiz player to be named the Rookie of the Year, joining the 2018 winner Kang Baek-ho.

In this file photo from Nov. 9, 2020, So Hyeong-jun of the KT Wiz pitches against the Doosan Bears in the top of the first inning of Game 1 of the second-round series in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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