“Now is the best.”
What the hell happened in Australia? Young Gun, who struggled in his debut season, has completely changed. The favorable reviews for left-hander Choi Ji-min, a second-year KIA player, continue. Choi Ji-min is preparing for the 2023 season at KIA’s Tucson Kino Sports Complex spring camp in Arizona, USA.
After graduating from Gangneung High School, he entered the 2022 2nd 1st round in 5th place, with an average ERA of 13.50 in 6 games. He was good during spring camp practice, but his pace slowed from the exhibition game and he failed to establish himself in the first team. He was also not good in the Futures League with an ERA of 7.04 with 1 win, 5 losses and 6 holds in 35 games.
However, he changed dramatically when he was dispatched to Geelong Korea, an Australian professional baseball team. He posted a 1.47 earned run average with 3 holds and 2 saves in 17 games. Even if the overall level of the Australian league is lower than that of the KBO league, the general consensus is that the competitiveness of top-tier hitters is not significantly lacking compared to the KBO league.
In fact, there were officials who evaluated Choi Ji-min as having better game management skills and better development potential than Kim Jin-wook (Lotte), who was a senior in high school for one year. As he adjusted his pitching balance in Australia, his command improved and his velocity increased.
Catcher Han Seung-taek, who received the ball from Choi Ji-man at the Tucson camp, acknowledged it. “The ball speed has increased compared to last year, and it has gained strength. My pitching was fine too.” According to Statiz, a baseball statistics site, Choi Ji-min’s average fastball speed in the 2022 season was 141.1 km. He has to reach the early to mid 140km to become competitive in the first team. 메이저놀이터
Manager Kim Jong-guk also said, “Choi Ji-min is the best among pitchers right now. He is connected to the flow that was good in Australia. He became more confident. His control has improved.” At the same time, he said, “He plans to build a winning pitching team with good pitchers, not left and right balance.”
KIA Pil Seung-jo no longer has to rely on Triple J (Jeong Hae-young, Jang Hyun-sik, Jeon Sang-hyun) this season. In addition to the existing left-handed setup man Lee Joon-young, Choi Ji-min and sidearm Kim Dae-yu also added. In addition, either Kim Ki-hoon or Yoon Young-chul could join the bullpen. The right-handed Pilseungjoo may change to a left-handed one.
Can KIA build a left-handed pitcher kingdom in the 2023 season? If Choi Ji-min shows the competitiveness to enter the first team, it could be the last puzzle. After finishing the spring camp without injury, he must watch the exhibition games and the beginning of the season with a long breath.