Kiwoom Heroes pitchers got some unexpected help from LG Twins pitchers. The foreign pitchers were “teachers.
Kiwoom has been led this year by ace Ahn Woo-jin and No. 4 starter Choi Won-tae, who have been solid pillars of the team’s starting staff. Ahn and Choi Won-tae are tied for first in the league with nine quality starts (six innings or more and three earned runs or less) as of Dec. 12. Ahn is third in the league in innings pitched (74⅓ innings) and Choi is fifth (73⅓ innings).
Ahn has already blossomed, winning the Pitcher’s Golden Glove last year, but Choi’s progress this year has been remarkable. The 2015 first-round pick, who was a 150-kilometer fastball pitcher when he entered the league, has thrown less of his fastball this year and more of his changeup, including a slider (28.3%), changeup (17.7%), and curveball (15.4%).
His changeup has also become a better pitch in the strike zone, making it easier for hitters to locate. As his fastball bounds increased, he became more discriminating with each pitch. When we caught up with Choi after a bullpen session at Katie Weeds Park in Suwon on the 11th, he mentioned an unexpected name, LG foreign pitcher Casey Kelly, as the secret to his improved changeup this year. 메이저놀이터
“I practiced my curveball a lot in spring training, but it didn’t go as well as I thought it would. At the beginning of last month, I met Kelly at Jamsil LG and learned his curveball. He taught me the mechanics of it, and it worked well for me. I couldn’t practice it before that, but I kept practicing it as he taught me, and it worked well.”
Meanwhile, the team’s junior, 2018 first-round pick Ahn Woo-jin, learned to sweep from LG Adam Plutko. Ahn had been interested in the sweeper since last year, and the team’s power analysis team told him that Plutko’s sweeper was good. “I originally learned the sweeper from Yokishi, but Yokishi didn’t throw it well, so I asked Plutko,” Ahn told the press recently.
“I asked him because he’s a player who always says hello when we meet, and he really taught me how to sweep in detail,” Ahn said. Flutko is closely followed by Ahn (1.82) in ERA (1.97) this year, but she doesn’t mind the competition and is happy to share her “secret weapon.
When asked if he had a special relationship with Plutko, Ahn said, “Foreign pitchers like me. At the All-Star Game last year, Luchinski told me I was like Walker Buehler. He said that about me to the NC players as well,” he laughed.
Yokishi and Ariel Hurtado also talk a lot with their teammates, but it’s also important to seek out players on other teams who have a similar style to yours. Foreign pitchers in the KBO have the ability to be the ace of a team. Ahn Woo-jin and Choi Won-tae are finding ways to improve by connecting beyond their teams.