“It has improved a lot.”
KIA Tigers coach Kim Jong-guk smiles heartily whenever he looks at left-handed pitcher Choi Ji-min (20).
In the spring camp in Tucson, Arizona, USA, Choi Ji-min is fighting hard every day. His control, which was considered a weakness, improved, and his speed went up. He threw a high of 56 pitches in four bullpen pitches. In the first live pitching on the 14th, he continued to verify by distributing 30 balls. Coach Kim evaluated Ji-min Choi’s pitching, saying, “It seems that he has prepared well during the off-season period. Both his restraint and control are flawless.” 메이저놀이터
Choi Ji-min was a pitcher who had high expectations around this time last year. After joining the 1st team spring camp held in Hampyeong, he passed the verification stage in turn, including Cheongbaekjeon, practice game, and demonstration game. He struck out easily with his heavy fastball, and his unshakable pitch also received favorable reviews.
But he couldn’t overcome the tension. Choi Ji-min, whose pitch was shaken at the end of the demonstration game, was included in the opening entry, but collapsed with 3 hits (1 home run), 2 walks, 1 walk and 5 runs in 1 inning in the opening game of the 2022 KBO League against the LG Twins in Gwangju. Choi Ji-min went down to Futures (second team) in a week and went through a reorganization period, but there was no rebound. His final performance of the season was a disappointing indicator, with an earned run average of 13.50 in 6 games and 6 innings without a win or loss.
Choi Ji-min, who joined the Hampyeong Pitching Academy when he was on the Futures (second team) team, joined Geelong Korea of the Australian Professional Baseball (ABL) after the season. Here he pitched 17 games and 18⅓ innings, where he pitched 2 saves and 3 holds with a 1.47 earned run average. He allowed just 3 earned runs on 10 runs, and his walks were just 8 while striking out 19. His highest fastball speed was 148 km. The potential he showed in Geelong Korea is being proven through this spring camp.
KIA is a team nicknamed ‘Pitcher Kingdom’ for its abundant pitching depth. Especially this year, the bullpen is lined with high-quality left-handed pitchers such as Lee Jun-young, Kim Dae-yu, and Kim Ki-hoon. In the midst of this, with the rapid growth of Choi Ji-min, who entered the second year, it seems to be building a stronger bullpen. This is the reason why KIA and coach Kim never stop laughing.