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Two years after being dropped from the KBO, 20 rounds into the MLB, Choi tries his hand at the ‘big leagues’ “To where Kim Ha-seong plays— dreams come true.”

Choi Byung-yong (21) was a big infield prospect at Shinil High School. At 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, he had a long bat and could play shortstop and third base. However, he was not selected in the 2021 KBO Rookie Draft. The expectation that he would be selected was wrong.

After considering the independent leagues, Choi opted for the United States. He enrolled at New Mexico Military Institute, a two-year college, and continued to play baseball. Two years have passed. On 11 November, he was selected by San Diego in the 20th round (611th overall) of the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. It’s the first time a South Korean high school player has been drafted by the MLB after attending a US university.

In a phone call on the 16th, Choi said, “I was in disbelief, and in fact, it still feels like a dream sometimes. It’s honestly a little strange to be interviewed like this,” he laughed.

Choi was able to go to the United States through Cross Baseball’s baseball study abroad programme. CrossBaseball is a consulting company specialising in studying baseball at American universities, founded by non-baseball player Nam Ji-hyun after he left his job at a large company.카지노사이트

Every year since 2018, Nam has invited American college coaches to Korea for a “showcase” of high school baseball players who have not been drafted into the KBO. Now in its sixth year, the programme’s first MLB draftee, Byung-yong Choi, is a third-year international student. Nam said he came up with the programme after realising that many high school prospects have nowhere to go if they don’t get drafted into the pros. He thought that they could not only continue playing baseball, but also find a new path in life at an American university where they could combine athletics and academics.

Choi Byung-yong defends during a game at New Mexico Military Institute College in the United States. Choi Byung-yong Instagram

And so it was that Choi embarked on a new challenge in the United States. It wasn’t an easy adjustment. He had been studying English diligently since he decided to move to the United States, but it wasn’t easy from the start. Unlike in Korea, he had to juggle his studies, and the training culture was unfamiliar. Choi recalls, “Team training takes three hours. I wondered if I could train for that long,” he said.

He knew he had to work out on his own and that it was a competition. It’s a story that many athletes who have made it to the United States will tell you.

They worked hard on strength training to compete with the stronger American players, and they worked hard to hit balls they hadn’t seen in Korea. Even his schoolmates cheered him on as he flew to the US just to play baseball. “They’re really good friends,” says Choi. They helped me so much, from taking classes to working out,” he said.

It was only last month that Choi received a definite stamp of approval from San Diego. The team held a “tryout” of sorts at the team’s spring training facility in Arizona, bringing together college players on their list, including Choi. The intention was to make a final push before the draft. “I think Choi’s impressive performance at the tryout was well-received,” said Nam Gung-hoon, San Diego’s scout in charge of Asia.

Choi will soon undergo a club medical and begin his minor league career. The competition is much harsher than at the university level. The lower the ranking, the less attention teams will pay to you. You have to prove yourself with your skills.

Choi is no stranger to this. He has no choice but to try harder than he is now. My first goal is to reach Double-A in three to four years. Then, of course, the big leagues. San Diego also has Kim Ha-seong, who has been on fire this season. “It’s a dream come true, so I’m going to give it my best shot. I want to play on the same stage as Kim one day,” he said.

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