One of the most unexpected names in the 24-man baseball squad for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games announced on 9 September was Choi Won-jun (26), who is currently serving his military service with the Korean Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce).
After literally blowing up the Futures League (second division) last year, Choi made the preliminary roster as a wildcard candidate, but he wasn’t a sure thing to make the team. He has the advantage of being able to play both infield and outfield, but he hasn’t played a first team game recently. As an under-25 player, he was a wildcard that had to be used with caution.메이저사이트
However, the selection committee felt that Choi’s versatility would be of great benefit at the Asian Games, where the team will have a limited roster, and with his scheduled discharge from the Korean Army on 13 June, he will have about four months to adapt and perform at a high level in the first team before the tournament in September.
The Kia already had a strong roster of starting left-hander Lee Yi-ri, who played in the Tokyo Olympics and the fifth World Baseball Classic (WBC) back-to-back, and left-hander Choi Ji-min, who has been one of the league’s most potent bullpen arms this season. Add to that Choi Won-jun, and it is expected that three members of the club will ultimately go to Hangzhou.
Kia head coach Kim Jong-guk was also unexpectedly surprised by Choi’s selection ahead of the 9th game against Doosan in Jamsil. Kim said, “Choi Won-jun hasn’t played much in the Futures League this year due to injury. I think coach Ryu Jung-il thought a little more about his previous good performances and selected him.” “Lee Yi-ri honestly thought I would be selected as well. Choi Ji-min was playing well for the first time this year, so I honestly thought it was about half and half.”
Choi Won-jun was discharged from the army on 12 June and will join the team on 13 June against Gochuk Kiwoom. He’s a player the team could use in a pinch. Currently, KIA has a problem in the outfield without Na Sung-bum and an offensive problem at first base. Choi Won-jun has experience in both the outfield and infield. In recent years, he has been playing first base in the Futures League, preparing for his post-military career.
“He played the outfield for about two seasons before he went to the military, but before that, he played the outfield and first base, so he was versatile,” says Kim. Now, he can play first base according to our team. I can play multiple spots, infield and outfield.”
In any case, the loss of three key players at the end of the season, when the battle for the top spot will be fierce, is something the club needs to be prepared for. There is no immediate replacement for Lee Yi-ri and Choi Ji-min in the current roster. “It’s not like we’re missing two middle players or two starters, but it’s better. I hope we can do well and come back with a gold medal or a good performance as we had hoped. We will have to think about the gap a little bit from the month of August.”