For your daily dose of Choo news – earlier this week, it was announced that Look Asia, a movie production company has signed contracts with Shin-Soo Choo and Dae-Ho Lee, currently with they Orix Buffaloes, to make a movie about the Korean team that won the 2000 18U Baseball World Championship in Edmonton, Canada. The movie, currently called “Edmonton Kids” will also focus on the later development of Choo and Lee, who is a former KBO triple crown winner. Both players grew up as talented baseball players in Busan at the same time, making them friends and rivals.
At the time, Choo was a top pitcher, and won both the MVP and Best Pitcher awards for the tournament. I don’t think there are complete records available anywhere on the web, but apparently the gold medal game between South Korea and the U.S. was something special. Though the US went up early 4-0, the Koreans won it 9-7 in a brutal 13 inning, 4- hour struggle. (Link to the Edmonton International Baseball Foundation website). Players on the 2000 US Junior squad include JJ Hardy, Brandon League, and Joe Mauer (who OPsed 1.566 over the course of the tournament). I don’t have any stats for the Korean side, but Shin-Soo Choo apparently struck out 33 batters over the team’s 8 games. (Has anyone ever asked Mauer or Choo if they faced each other as teenagers – you know, since they played against each other in the AL Central for so many years?)
The article also says they signed with both players’ teams, but I don’t know if they also includes the Reds, and if they movie will include any of Choo’s time with the Reds. Still, it seems like a pretty good watch, if there ends up being an English subtitle.
In other news, you know what I did find? I found Shin-Soo Choo’s high school stats! I know, How useless is that? Super useless. But still.
First, I want to introduce this segment with a screen cap of the amazingness of google translate. One, tee-hee! Two, you can see that Choo wore 17 in high school, too.
Here are Choo’s stats as a pitcher. FYI, I think these are just the major tournaments, and are not totally complete. (You can read a little more on Korean HS baseball on wiki.)
Note the 87 Ks, 36 BB, and 15 HBP in 74 innings in his final year. Busan-go won the President’s Cup Championship that year, and Choo got the win in four of the team’s five game, which, incidentally, occurred over the course of about 9 days.
And here’s the hitting stats:
Choo’s patience and power are clearly not a recent development. However, if these stats are at least complete for these tournaments, his base-stealing is. Maybe that’s just not how the high school game is played in Korea. It also makes me wonder about Korean player development. Lately, the US tends to concentrate on the pitchers from NPB and KBO. This meshes philosophically with the NPB’s love for foreign power hitters, like our old friend Wladimir Balentien. But, the KBO’s foreign players are almost all pitchers, like our old friend Ben Jukich.
I’m not totally sure how true it is that Mariners scouts signed Choo primarily as a pitcher, but how crazy is that? Choo’s HS hitting numbers look pretty great to me, and now he’s the most successful Korean hitter in MLB history. But he was scouted and signed as a pitcher.