The South Korean baseball team has won gold. It’s their fourth straight Asian Games gold medal.
While this is a huge accomplishment for Korean baseball, there are some players who are feeling a bit disappointed. Lee Yi-ri (21-KIA Tigers) is one of them. It’s a sore finger that can’t be buried in the joy of gold.
Lee was a part of the team that made it to the Tokyo Olympics and the WBC this season, so it’s understandable that he was disappointed to miss out on the Hangzhou AG. This is especially true when the reason for the withdrawal is ‘injury not injury’.
It’s heartbreaking for the athlete. But after the rain, the ground hardens. KIA’s Lee Yi-ri has been showing signs of improvement lately. The end of the season is just around the corner, but he seems to be exploding with potency.
Shortly after being cut from the national team, Lee pitched two strong games in a row. On October 3, he started a game against the visiting KT Wiz of the 2023 KBO League at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon, allowing four hits and five walks in 5⅓ innings, but struck out four in each inning to limit the damage to one run.
Sprinkling in a hard-hitting fastball that topped out at 152 mph, Lee upped his pitch count to a season-high 109. He still struggled with his fastball. But it’s much better than before, and it’s encouraging to see that he’s still hitting over 150 mph after 100 pitches.
His last two starts have also been good. One run in 12.1 innings with five strikeouts. Lee threw a “no-hitter” in the second game of a doubleheader against the NC Dinos last month on September 27, throwing seven innings of three-hit ball.
Lee has had a big change of heart recently, as he has been on an elite course since high school. As a high school freshman at Gwangju Il-Go, he was so prominent that he faced off against sophomore Jung Koo-beom in the quarterfinals of the Golden Lion. He won the Golden Lion title that year, and later that year, he won the national championship with his ace. In his sophomore year, he became the nation’s ace. The left-handed pitcher, who throws up to 148 kilometers, was already drafted as a sophomore.
In the professional ranks, she quickly won 10 games and was named Rookie of the Year, earning a spot on the national team. He was on track to pitch in the third and fourth rounds of the Tokyo Olympics. For Lee, missing the Asian Games was the biggest test he had ever faced.
But Lee is channeling that pain in the very right way on the mound. “I will pitch for my team seniors and the KIA Tigers who comforted and supported me,” he said.
In fact, there isn’t an observer who doesn’t recognize that he’s the No. 1 left-hander in the country, even if he’s only been as good as he’s been in his last two games. This means that Lee’s exclusion from the national team in no way signifies a decline in his value.
He’ll still have plenty of opportunities three years later at the 2026 Asian Games in Nagoya if he wants them. At the AG, South Korea didn’t have any left-handed starters. Here he is, a left-handed fastball fireballer who fits the mold of the international scene. The international game demands fastball pitchers who can deliver with power. Add to that the growing number of left-handed batters, and the importance of left-handed pitchers is obvious.토토사이트
It was a big loss, but it may have given the Kia Tigers a real first-round left-handed fireballer. Lee is only 21 years old, so it’s hard to let this setback stop him.
More importantly, his qualities are too valuable to the Korean baseball organization.