From baseball hobby class to professional designation to national treasure certification to his first national team…”It’s a great honor to be a national team member”
Choi Seung-yong (22, Dusan), who played baseball in a weekend hobby club until his sophomore year of middle school, has been honored with a spot on the national team for the third time in his professional career.
Choi was named to the final 26-man roster for the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023, announced by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Thursday, marking the first time in his career that he will wear the Korean flag.
The tournament is open to players aged 24 or younger (born on or after January 1, 1999) or in their third year of eligibility (born after 2021), with up to three players aged 29 or younger (born on or after January 1, 1994) as wild cards.
Choi, born in 2001, is among the 12 pitchers on the roster, 카지노사이트킴 along with teammate and senior Kwak Bin (24). Notably, Choi did not make the 62-man preliminary roster announced at the end of August, but was a surprise addition to the national team after his performance in September and October.
When contacted by OSEN after the announcement, Choi said, “I wasn’t expecting much because I didn’t make the preliminary roster, but I was surprised to be selected,” adding, “I never played for the national team as an amateur. Some players never get to wear a national team jersey while playing baseball, so it’s an honor to wear the Taeguk mark at such a young age. I became a national team member sooner than I thought. It gives me a sense of pride and responsibility,” he said.
The first person to contact him after he made the team was Kwak Bin, a fellow Doosan player. “My teammate (Kwak) Bin was the first to text me to congratulate me on making the team,” Choi said.
Choi is a left-handed pitching prospect who was discovered by Doosan two years ago. Selected with the 20th pick in the second round of the 2021 Doosan Baseball Draft out of Sollae High School, he earned a spot on the postseason roster after going 15-2 with a 3.93 ERA in his first year, gaining valuable experience in seven games. On the big stage of the Korean Series, he pitched three games and 1⅔ scoreless innings, drawing attention to himself as the left-hander to lead Doosan in the future.
Surprisingly, Choi played baseball as a weekend hobbyist until his sophomore year of middle school, when he began playing elite baseball in his junior year. Nevertheless, he developed a flexible pitching arsenal in high school, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and splitter, and helped Sollae Go defeat favorite Yatap Go in the round of 16 at the 74th Golden Lion.
Choi Seung-yong was also the subject of controversy at the Ulsan spring training camp in February last year. Former ‘National Treasure’ manager Sun Dong-yeol became the Bears’ daily pitching instructor and kept a close eye on the Doosan pitchers, giving Choi the highest praise, saying, “I really don’t have anything to say to you.”
Choi broke into the starting rotation this year after catching the eye of manager Lee Seung-yup, the “national hitter,” and posted an impressive 3-6 record with one save and a 3.97 ERA in 34 games. He went through some growing pains in the first half of the year and had to bounce between the starting rotation and the bullpen, but he settled down in the second half and went 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 15 games, helping Doosan reach the postseason. He also pitched one inning of one-hit ball in Game 1 of the wild-card deciding game against NC, striking out 10 and walking none.
“I wasn’t doing so well in the first half of the season, but in the second half, my pace improved and my performance was good, so I think they took a good look at me,” Choi said, speculating on why he was selected to the national team. “I think experiencing the big stage of the APBC will give me confidence when I come back to Doosan and prepare for next season, and I want to make sure I get that confidence,” he said.
In addition to earning a spot on the national team, he also shared his thoughts on the 2023 season. “At the beginning of the season, coach Lee Seung-yup and the team had high expectations, but I was disappointed and upset with myself because I didn’t do well. “Two years ago, I wasn’t nervous about the postseason because I didn’t know what to expect, but this year, I was nervous, but I’m glad the results went well,” he said.
The APBC team will gather in Daegu on the 5th of next month for training and practice games at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu from the 6th to the 13th before departing for Tokyo, Japan on the 14th. Choi Seung-yong plans to get in shape at Doosan’s finishing camp at Icheon Bears Park from Nov. 29 before heading to Daegu.
The 2023 APBC will be held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan from Nov. 16-19, with Korea facing Australia on Nov. 16, Japan on Nov. 17 and Chinese Taipei on Nov. 18. The third-place game and final will be held on the 19th.