Cub Hopeful Shines With 3-Run Homer In First Preseason Majors AppearanceScottsdale, Arizona - Dreams abound at spring training camp, and Choi Hee-seop has a new reason to dream.
Choi, the first Korean position player to try out for a U.S. major league baseball team, hit a three-run home run on the first pitch of his first at-bat against a major league pitcher in a spring training game on Thursday.
The Chicago Cubs were leading 2-1, when Choi, pinch-hitting for Cubs pitcher Kyle Farnsworth, hit a towering 150-meter homer off San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Gardner in the sixth inning. Gardner, a 13-year major league veteran, won 11 games and lost 7 last season.
Paced by Choi's heroics, the Cubs went on to beat the Giants 6-5.
Choi withdrew from Korea University in 1999 to join the Cubs organization. He hit 43 home runs in 211 minor league games, making him the Cubs' most promising prospect to replace first baseman Mark Grace.
Cubs manager Don Baylor commented, "Choi is a hitter with a smooth and powerful swing." Baylor added that fans will be seeing more of the young slugger during spring training.
Choi, who vowed not to return to Korea until he succeeds in the majors, may be able to make the trip home sooner than he thinks.
The Associated Press reported that, while Choi will likely start the season with the AAA (the highest rung of U.S. baseball's minor league system) Iowa Cubs, he could be called up to the majors by the end of the season if he keeps hitting the ball out of the park at the pace he is on now.
by Choi Min-woo