Will KIA Tigers left-hander Eui-ri Lee (20) have an ace coronation?
Eui-ri Lee has shown extraordinary growth since her rookie days. He was named the 2021 Tigers first pick and signed with a contract of 300 million won. As soon as spring camp started, he caught the attention by throwing hot balls in the bullpen pitching. Continuing his momentum, he entered the opening starting lineup and quickly established himself as a starting pillar.
He threw a 150 km ball. It was a speed that did not appear in his high school days. He didn’t know that the effects of his bulking up and systematic training all winter would show up so quickly. Kim Si-jin, chairman of the KBO Technical Committee, admired, saying, “A very good left-handed pitcher has appeared.” He was proudly selected as a national representative for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. No one objected to Lee Eui-ri’s Taegeuk mark.
The season ended prematurely with an ankle injury at the end of the season. He pitched 19 games and pitched 94⅔ innings, going 4-5 with an earned run average of 3.61. He didn’t have many wins compared to his powerful ball. He didn’t get much support from the other line. He still exposed his weaknesses in the first pitch. After the season, he competed fiercely with Lotte Choi Jun-yong to become the Rookie of the Year. He was the first Tigers Rookie of the Year in 34 years.
The 2022 season won his first 10 starts. He appeared in 29 games and pitched 154 innings. He went 10-10 with a 3.86 ERA. Along with his first full time, he also broke regulation innings. His speed has become faster and he has been reborn as a four-pitch pitcher by increasing the stability of his breaking ball, including his changeup, curveball, and slider. His control also showed an improvement. He has established himself as a complete starter.
His pitching with ups and downs is still being pointed out as a problem, but he is now in his second year of high school. It is more accurate to view it as the process of growing into an ace. Grand senior Yang Hyeon-jong was also not as good as Lee Eui-ri in the 안전놀이터 first and second years. He settled as a starting pitcher in his third year in 2009 and won 12 games (ERA 3.15). Yiui-ri’s growth rate is even steeper.
Lee Eui-ri was selected as the final member (30 members) of the WBC to be held in March. He proudly put his name among 15 pitchers. He is in charge of the mound along with seniors Yang Hyun-jong and Kim Gwang-hyun. His use has not yet been decided, but he has the potential to become a starting pitcher. He also played an ace-level performance at the Tokyo Olympics. He is also expected to play an active role as a WBC representative.
Following last year, double-digit victories are expected for the second year in a row. Even as a pitcher, it seems that not only a perfect four pitches, but also a more stable feeling on his mound with two years of accumulated experience. It is evaluated that 15 wins are possible if the ups and downs are reduced. If so, the coronation ceremony of Ace can be held with Lee Eui-ri from Yang Hyeon-jong. Eyes are focused on what kind of evolution Eui-ri Lee, who walks on the solid road, will do in the third year.