Hong Won-ki (49), coach of Kiwoom Heroes, put forward Ahn Woo-jin (23), not Eric Yokishi (33), as the first starter and ace for the 2022 season at the spring camp in February of this year.
It was because of the belief that An Woo-jin could outperform Yoki-shi in terms of pitch if he showed his potential. That expectation became a reality. An Woo-jin played in 30 games this year, went 15-8 with an average ERA of 2.11 and struck out 224 in 196 innings, winning two pitching crowns (average ERA, strikeouts) and his first Gold Glove.
In particular, he boasted an overwhelming pitch with 10.29 strikeouts per 9 innings, setting the record for the most strikeouts in a single season by a domestic pitcher, surpassing the late Choi Dong-won’s 223 in 1984. It is one less than the KBO record of 225 by Ariel Miranda in 2021.
It wasn’t that Yokishi couldn’t do it. With 7.48 strikeouts per 9 innings (14th in the league), it was just more disappointing than An Woo-jin, but he showed a top-notch performance with 10-8 in 30 games, an ERA of 2.57 (6th in the league), and 154 strikeouts in 185⅓ innings (4th in the league) (8th in the league). did. According to Stats, a Korean baseball statistics site, WAR (contribution to victory against substitute players) was the highest among foreign pitchers at 5.68, and even in the league as a whole, it was followed by Ahn Woo-jin with 7.92 and 토토 Kim Gwang-hyun (34, SSG) with 6.10. Thanks to the one-two punch, which is one of the best in the league, Kiwoom was able to achieve the achievement of runner-up in the Korean Series.
Kiwoom dreamed of another power improvement in the 2023 season. On the 25th of last month, he signed a contract with right-hander Ariel Furado (26) for a total of 1 million dollars (annual salary of 850,000 dollars, an option of 150,000 dollars). Hurado, who is 188 cm tall and weighs 105 kg, has the advantage of using various breaking balls such as sliders, curves and changeups, as well as fastballs with a maximum speed of 155 km/h.
In the major leagues, he did not shine with an average ERA of 5.97 with 12 wins and 16 losses over three seasons, but in Triple A, he was 5 wins and 2 losses with an average ERA of 3.55, which was not bad. With 1.8 walks per 9 innings in the minor leagues and 2.7 in the major leagues, it can be seen as an upgraded version of Yokishi, who enjoys fast two-seam fastballs while maintaining control.
In fact, when Hurado’s recruitment was announced, a major league scout and a KBO league official said in a phone call with Star News, “Kiwoom has brought in a good pitcher. Among foreign pitcher candidates this year, he is one of the few players worth a total of $1 million.” together
The club’s expectations are also high. Koh Hyeong-wook (51), general manager of Kiwoom Kiwoom, said after renewing the contract with Yokishi, “I don’t know who will be the first starter, whether it be An Woojin or Hoo.” “If Yokishi is the third starter, I don’t think we are inferior compared to other teams. I think there is,” he drew a blueprint for the 2023 season.
After joining Kiwoom in 2019, Yokishi was a filial son and an ace who was writing a new history for Heroes. 118 matches, 51 wins, 33 losses, 2.71 ERA, 1 ERA (2020), 1 win (2021),
It can be bittersweet that the hero corps becomes stronger the more he is pushed back, but it also means that he is a reliable player who will hold him at the center of the team. Regarding the reason for renewing the contract with Yokishi, General Manager Koh said, “No matter how good your grades are in a foreign country, if you cannot adapt in Korea, there is a very high chance of failure. We also suffered a lot of failures. It’s point-to-point. I have no regrets (for not catching a better pitcher).”