“He’s a pitcher with very good stuff”
I recognized him at first sight. Lotte’s new foreign hitter, Nico Goodrum (31), made his KBO League debut against Kiwoom in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Stadium in Busan on April 21.
The starting pitcher for Goodrum’s debut was none other than Kiwoom’s ace, Ahn Woo-jin, who represents the KBO League. It was the opening game of the second half of the season, so naturally, the ace Ahn Woo-jin was coming out.
Nevertheless, in his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning, Goodrum hit a three-pitch 153-kilometer fastball to center field. It was a good start.
But it wasn’t to be. In the bottom of the third inning, Goodrum was struck out by Ahn’s 137-kilometer changeup. In the bottom of the fifth inning, she struck out swinging on a 133-kilometer curveball.
“I think she’s a very good pitcher,” Goodrum said, “and I’m curious to see what she can do in the U.S.,” he added.
Goodrum didn’t record a major league hit this year, but he was a “run machine” for the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A Worcester Red Sox. His on-base percentage at Triple-A was a whopping .448.
His record in the major leagues wasn’t too bad either. He hit .245 with 16 home runs, 53 RBIs, and 12 doubles in 2018 for the Detroit Tigers, and .248 with 12 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 12 doubles in 2019, marking his second straight year of double-digit home runs. He has played 402 career games in the major leagues.
Ahn’s overseas career is still a long way off, but he is considered one of the next generation of overseas players. It’s no exaggeration to say that he’s already established himself in Korea. After taking the KBO by storm last year with a 15-8 record and 2.11 ERA in 196 innings pitched with 224 strikeouts, Ahn has continued his stellar pitching this year with a 6-6 record and 2.47 ERA in 113 innings pitched with 136 strikeouts. Just as the “Triple-A RBI Machine” wonders, it’s interesting to see what Ahn Woo-jin would do if he were to make the jump to the major leagues one day 안전놀이터.