‘No. 1’ Pannoni gets ML call-up…Chi-Chi still avoids KBO? Shim departs for the U.S. to solve the difficulties of head coach Jae-hak Shim
With cracks starting to appear on their mound, the KIA Tigers’ most pressing issue is finding a new foreign pitcher. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle to stabilize the starting lineup. Kia general manager Shim Jae-hak has traveled to the United States and is focused on solving this challenge.먹튀검증
On June 22, KIA removed existing foreign pitcher Adonis Medina from the roster. Medina appeared in 12 games this season, posting a 2-6 record with a 6.05 ERA, 36 strikeouts, 29 walks, and a 1.60 WHIP. He had just three quality starts in those 12 appearances. The Kia bench’s patience with Medina, who hasn’t been able to overcome his nagging velocity issues, has finally run out.
Key scouts had already left for the United States and other countries to keep an eye on the local foreign market. However, the current foreign market situation is not good.
Recently, the teams that have been looking for replacement foreign pitchers have all opted for the ‘old way’. After releasing Dylan Pyle, the Doosan Bears reacquired Brandon Waddell from the Taiwanese League, who played for the team last year. KT WIZ released Bo Schuler and reunited with William Cuevas, who is recovering from an elbow injury.
A baseball insider familiar with the foreign player market said, “The pitching pool has dried up in the U.S., and starting pitching talent is hard to come by, even with transfer fees. The fact that Kiwoom, which moved ahead of KIA, found a replacement player (Ian McKinney) from an independent league club is a good indication of the local situation.”
KIA was also looking at an ‘old acquaintance’ for its No. 1 replacement foreign pitcher. It was left-hander Thomas Pannoni, who played for the team last year. In 14 appearances in 2022, Panoni went 3-4 with a 2.72 ERA, 73 strikeouts, and a 1.23 WHIP. The Kia organization waived Pannoni last winter in search of a right-handed fireballer.
Now that he’s back in the United States, Panoni has been nothing short of spectacular this season. In 11 appearances (nine starts) at Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers, Pannoni is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 50 strikeouts, 13 walks, and a 1.09 WHIP in 53.1 innings pitched. Panoni’s improved slide-step mechanics and increased velocity have made him one of the most prominent pitchers in Triple-A.
With his progress, there was talk that a major league call-up was imminent, and on June 28, Milwaukee promoted him to the major league roster. For the time being, Panoni’s contract negotiations have been stalled.
KIA president Shim Jae-hak left for the United States on the 28th to focus on resolving the issue of signing a new foreign pitcher. While looking at the possibility of Panoni’s position changing in the future, the team is also in contact with other candidates to speed up the signing process.
Right-hander Choochie Gonzalez, who has been linked to KBO clubs in recent years, is also on the radar. Gonzalez is a member of the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A organization. This season, Gonzalez’s Triple-A record is 3-5 with a 6.30 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 11 walks, and a 1.58 WHIP in 12 appearances (60 innings). His velocity has dropped off a bit from his best days.
However, Gonzalez reportedly has no intention of moving to the KBO during the season. A source close to the A’s, who was interested in Gonzalez until recently, said, “Gonzalez still doesn’t seem to be willing to take on the challenge of playing overseas.”
In the end, the A’s have a few candidates other than Pannoni and Gonzalez that they’re watching in minor league games. However, there are still no pitchers in sight. It’s a difficult situation for manager Shim Jae-hak, who joined the team in the middle of the season. Since he was appointed in the middle of the season, he was unable to set up the season from scratch, so he is lucky if he succeeds in adapting to the club’s work and fixing the situation. It will be interesting to see what kind of new foreign pitchers he can bring to the team after traveling to the United States.