The Amazing Ji-Man Choi

The Rainiers mysterious Korean first baseman is up to something.

Barely seen the last two years due to suspension (last year) and a broken fibula (suffered the first game of spring training, this year), Ji-Man Choi has reappeared for the final two-and-a-half weeks of the PCL season, and he has immediately become The Most Interesting Man On The Field.

First of all, he started switch-hitting. Who the heck starts switch-hitting at age 24 in Triple-A?

So far, so good on that front: a natural lefty, he’s 4-for-7 as a right-handed batter in his first week of switch-hitting.

Then last night he had the Rainiers biggest individual RBI game of the season. Choi went 4-for-5 with seven runs batted in during the Rainiers strange 13-7 win over Memphis.

Choi hit a grand slam in the first inning (video in links down below), an RBI single in the second, a two-run single in the fourth, and a leadoff double in the sixth.

Choi doesn’t speak enough English to do a radio interview, but he told me that he’s always wanted to switch-hit and this spring the Mariners agreed to let him try. Choi did talk about last night’s game (through an interpreter) to MiLB.com in the first link down below.

He’ll be fun to watch over the final 12 games.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma blew a 7-0 lead when Memphis rallied to score seven runs in the top of the third inning – on just two hits. There were a week’s worth of errors and walks in the inning. Tacoma shook it off and scored six unanswered runs afterwards to take the game and earn a split of the series.

Today: Nashville (60-72) at Tacoma (62-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: First meeting of the season.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Brad Mills (5-11, 4.32) at RHP Forrest Snow (9-8, 3.97).

Hot Rainiers: Ji-Man Choi is 9-for-15 over his last four games… Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 14-for-30 with two homers and six doubles during the streak… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 20 of his last 21 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Nashville’s new ballpark is a pitcher’s park and the team doesn’t have very impressive hitting stats, but they just spent four days in Reno to get the bats warmed up. Jason Pridie was a PCL All-Star and he carries a seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest… Joey Wendle has a ten-game hitting streak, going 17-for-44 during it. His 37 doubles ranks second in the league… Nashville split the series in Reno, but has gone 5-2 over the last week.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune is just a blow-by-blow, but MiLB.com talked to Ji-Man Choi and has embedded video of his grand slam.
  • Tacoma’s Jabari Blash is getting some national attention from Fangraphs (warning: stats! math! pork chops!).
  • The superstars – and Ketel Martestepped up for the Mariners in an 8-2 win over Oakland yesterday.
  • Bob Dutton’s John McGrath’s Mariners Notebook looks at Nelson Cruz‘s MVP chances. He’s right, winning influences voters, whether we agree with it or not. That happens even in the PCL, too: since no individual stood out from the crowd this season, I voted for the best player who played a lot on the best team and Fresno’s Matt Duffy got my vote.
  • Larry Stone has a column on how the Mariners season went off-track.
  • In the PCL, Omaha’s Jose Martinez is honing in on the batting title. His average keeps going up – he’s now at .392. Omaha picked up a 5-1 win over Sacramento last night.
  • Las Vegas is heating up – or perhaps is simply playing games against New Orleans – at just the right time. The 51s beat New Orleans 10-6 last night and have won 5-of-6. New Olreans has lost… uhhh… opens up calculator… 17 of the last 18 games.
  • El Paso remained 2.5 games behind Las Vegas in the Pacific-South division race by edging Colorado Springs, 2-1, in a game with a dramatic finish.
  • Carlos Pimentel became the PCL’s first 12-game winner in Iowa’s 3-2 home win over Fresno.
  • Reno whacked Nashville last night, 11-5, as Peter O’Brien had a big game at the dish.
  • The Salt Lake Bees have rehabbing Collin Cowgill, Matt Joyce, and David Freese batting 2-3-4 in the lineup. They beat Round Rock in ten innings, 7-5.
  • The Dodgers returned to Albuquerque and some fans came out in Dodgers gear. The ‘Topes won the game, 11-6, and turned a triple play (with video).

It’s the final Thirsty Thursday of the year, you guys. Don’t cry in your beer.

2 Responses to The Amazing Ji-Man Choi

  1. Jack says:

    I so want the Mariners to give Ji-Man a fair shot at 1B. He’s always hit well at every level. He’s been injury prone and isn’t a power hitting prospect, but the Mariners have power hitters and can certainly use a guy who can get on base and hit for high average.

  2. Jack says:

    Why would the Mariners send Zunino down to AAA now and waste an option when the AAA season is almost over and the roster is about to expand?

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