(By Yoon-seo Park, Korea Sports News) A fresh breeze on the mound of the KIA Tigers. This season, Yoon Young-cheol (19), a “special rookie,” and Choi Ji-min (20), a “monster left-hander,” have been anchoring the mound. The left-handed duo has different charms. What are their strengths?
Yoon Young-cheol, the second overall pick in the first round of the 2023 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Draft, made his way into the starting lineup by showing uncharacteristic guts in spring training and exhibition games. Tasked with the fifth spot, Yoon made eight appearances, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.95 ERA in 39⅔ innings.
Choi’s performance has been phenomenal, as he has shown remarkable improvement. After joining KIA with the fifth overall pick in the 메이저놀이터 second round of the 2022 KBO Draft, Choi posted a 13.50 ERA in six games last year, his rookie season. But after a year of improving his velocity, command, and command of his pitches, Choi joined the Pilseungs and went 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 22 games with one save and three holds.
Yoon Young-chul and Choi Ji-min are both lefties, but in different colors. Choi, who has recently been wearing a catcher’s mask, first spoke about Yoon, saying, “He throws every pitch accurately. Even if the ball is not fast, it does not hit the opponent’s bat. He has a good fastball, so there are many pitches he can throw.”
Shin continued, “I feel comfortable signing him (Yoon). He gets a lot of favorable counts, so it’s fun to play with him. He’s a good pitcher.”
Shin also reviewed Choi Ji-min’s pitching, saying, “He’s a fastball pitcher. It’s very tricky and powerful,” he said.
The pitchers have many conversations with their catchers about their pitches and share their opinions. “I’ve been talking to (Lee) Eui-ri and (Yoon) Young-chul all the time, and I’ve been asking them a lot about the hitters they’re facing, their pitches, and their tendencies, and I think it’s starting to pay off,” Shin said. “Some of the pitchers have improved a lot since (camp). The ball is definitely better now,” he said.