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Geelong-Korea 2018/19 season preview
Will the newcomers have instant success in the ABL?
11/06/2018 1:10 AM ET
 

All eyes will be on Geelong-Korea as they make their debut in the Australian Baseball League this summer.

South Korean legend Dae-sung Koo - GK's inaugural manager - has put together an unheralded roster with splashes of youth and KBO experience.

But will that translate into instant success and can a stint in the ABL launch - or relaunch - the careers of GK's 25-man roster?

GK will compete in the South-West Division against 2018 playoff teams Perth and Melbourne, along with Adelaide (last in 2017/2018).

They start on the road to Sydney when all eyes will be on Blacktown to see what Geelong-Korea dish up.

 

The Vitals

Last season: n/a

Manager: Dae-sung Koo

Home ballpark: Geelong Baseball Centre, Geelong VIC

 

Three up, three down

1. Game-plan and style

In a recent article with baseball.com.au, Australian baseball legend Chris Oxspring flagged GK's gamestyle as a deciding factor for their success.

Traditionally, Korean baseball teams focus on off-speed pitching over heavy fastballs, and 'small-ball' offence rather than trying to club homers.

This change of style may ruffle a few Australian teams, and could be the point of difference which sets GK on their way.

 

2. Reliance on experience

GK boasts a pair of pitchers with KBO experience, and there's no doubt Koo will rely heavily on Jae-gon Lee and Jin-woo Kim.

Lee has appeared in 67 games with the Lotte Giants in Korea's top-flight, while Jin-woo Kim boasts 13 years of experience at the top level.

Koo will look to his KBO-quality arms in high leverage situations.

 

3. Surprise factor

If there's one thing baseball fans know to be true; it's to expect the unexpected.

Geelong-Korea have more intrigue around them than any other team in ABL history, and it's that element of surprise that may play in their favour as the season continues.

There's no doubt that players, managers and fans all across the league will pay extra attention to GK's opening game against the Sydney Blue Sox on November 15, where key questions may be answered.

The Blue Sox will need to be on their toes.

 

The case for

They have Dae-sung Koo.

Koo is a legend of Australian and Korean baseball, and is undoubtedly the best person to lead Geelong-Korea in their inaugural season.

The 49-year-old made his debut in the KBO in 1993, and won the KBO MVP in 1996. Since then, Koo has appeared in Major League Baseball, Japan's NPB and the Australian Baseball League, where he spent five seasons with the Sydney Blue Sox.

Koo's intimate understanding of the Australian game will hold him in good stead, while his stature in Korean baseball is unquestionable.

The players will play for him.

 

The case against

With zero games of ABL experience as a playing group, how quickly can Geelong-Korea find their feet?

Koo's experience is invaluable for the playing group, but once they cross those white lines, it's all up to them.

So many questions remain unanswered for Geelong-Korea in their first season of ABL action, but with Koo's experience, high-quality team leaders and very little expectations, underestimate them at your peril.

 

Home opener

vs Perth at Geelong Baseball Centre, November 22 at 7pm local time. Get your tickets here!

 

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.