Ji-min Choi, 20, a bullpen pitcher for the KIA Tigers, traveled to the Australian Baseball League a year ago to gain practical experience. At Geelong Korea, he learned pitching techniques and mental management from Korean baseball legend Koo Dae-sung.
He was a first-round pick in the 2022 rookie draft, but only made six first-team appearances in his rookie season. Rookie finesse left-handed pitchers who entered the organization with high expectations repeatedly struggled, and Choi Ji-min failed to break the trend. The decision to study in Australia was made against this backdrop.
It was a big opportunity for Choi. Australia has shown its competitiveness in international tournaments. The same goes for the league level. She was able to gain experience.
Plus, for Choi, it was a chance to test the fastball she had honed during her rookie season with the Future Team. Last year, Choi made changes to her mechanics under the guidance of current Future Team head coach Son Seung-rak, who was the strength and conditioning coordinator at the time.
After slowly improving, Choi finished the 2023 season with a 3-3 record and 12 saves in 58 appearances. His ERA (2.12) was on par with the best setup men in the league. He finished the year with a 1.70 GAA. In his second year with the team and his first full-time season with the first team, Choi became one of the team’s top pitchers.
Choi was named to the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) roster announced in June and helped South Korea win the gold medal at the tournament in September and October, going 1-2 with no earned runs in four games. At the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), which concluded on Sept. 19, he pitched a no-hitter in three of Korea’s four games. In the final against Japan on the 19th, he struck out and grounded out the opposing batters with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth inning to get out of a jam, and then struck out the side in the ninth.
Choi has become a completely different pitcher in a year. Her next task this year will be a full recovery. Last season, she pitched 44 and one-third innings, including the Futures League. This season, he pitched 66 and two-thirds innings in the regular season and international tournaments (AG-APBC)FMF.
While that’s a small number compared to starting pitchers, it’s certainly a lot of innings compared to previous years. It’s common for less experienced pitchers to get injured or suffer from velocity decline in the season after throwing more innings than before, but Choi hasn’t stopped pitching for a year since she was sent to Australia. 토토사이트
There are also other variables that make Choi different from other players. His velocity increased significantly over the year. His average velocity on his four-seam fastball, which was 141.1 km/h in 2022, has risen to 145.8 km/h this season. He’s more competitive, but it’s too early to tell if the velocity has materialized. He should focus on getting his arm healthy and recovering this winter.