Choi Ji-min, a left-handed pitcher who graduated from Gangneung High School, joined the KIA Tigers with the 5th overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2022 rookie draft. Choi Ji-min, who was included in the opening roster, made his debut by making a relief mound from the opening game against the LG Twins. However, Choi Ji-min performed poorly in the first team this season. He appeared in 2 games in April, 2 games in May, 1 game in June and 1 game in October. Choi Ji-min recorded an average ERA of 13.50 with 9 runs (9 earned) in 6 innings. 메이저놀이터
Choi Ji-min boarded a plane to Australia after the season ended. Choi Ji-min, who joined Geelong Korea, performed well. Choi Ji-min appeared in 17 games and recorded an average ERA of 1.47 with 3 holds, 2 saves, 10 runs (3 ERA) in 18⅓ innings.
Choi Ji-min, who returned to Korea through Incheon International Airport on the 23rd, met with reporters and said, “It was a long time, but I’m satisfied with the return without injury. I think it’s better because there were good results.” After going to Australia and dealing with other hitters, I gained a lot of confidence, and I couldn’t hit my ball well. My confidence increased in that area,” he said, expressing his feelings at the end of the season.
Regarding the difference between Korea and Australia, Choi Ji-min said, “Australian players seem to be playing more aggressively. The strike zone is also large, so it seems that a lot of bats came out even with similar balls. I think that part made it a little easier to deal with batters. He said, “You will know this season by dealing with foreign batters in the KBO League, but there were also players who played for the national team in Australia. Dealing with such players seems to be easier than before.”
On the stage in Australia, Choi Ji-min also raised his restraint. According to the baseball statistics site ‘Staties’, Choi Ji-min’s average fastball velocity is 141.1 km/h. However, Choi Ji-min threw the ball fast, recording a maximum speed of 148 km/h on the Australian stage.
Regarding the increase in speed, Choi Ji-min said, “The speed came out well. It was good that it came out much better than I thought. It seems that life in Australia itself was fun.” It was regrettable, so I chose to go to Australia. I think that led to good results.”
Coach Lee Byung-gyu, who led Geelong Korea, said he wanted the players to do whatever they wanted. Choi Ji-min returned to Korea after taking several tests as directed by Lee Byeong-gyu. He said, “When I went to Australia, I went with the idea of trying something I couldn’t do in Korea. I learned curves from him and practiced.”
He also asked the legendary Koo Dae-sung for help to study his changeup. Choi Ji-min said, “It was difficult to approach him because he is a legendary person. Still, I asked a lot of questions and received a lot of advice. I asked because I wanted to throw a perfect changeup. Senior Koo Dae-sung told me to try various grips and find the one that suits him. I want to study about it during spring camp and throw it perfectly.”
Finally, Choi Ji-min expressed his determination, saying, “Last season, I couldn’t show a good performance in the first team, but this year I also experienced Australia. I hope to do better.”