The new owner has been decided to engrave the number “28,” which has been vacant due to the retirement of “132 wins legend” Jang Won-joon. Choi Seung-yong (23), a rookie left-hander who expressed his strong ambition to succeed Jang Won-joon by engraving Jang’s number, is the main character.
According to a Doosan Bears official, Choi recently chose No. 28 instead of No. 64 when deciding the number of his 2024 season uniform. No. 28 is the number worn by left-hander Jang Won-joon, who announced his retirement after the 2023 season.
Jang was given the number 21 along with the first Lotte Giants nomination in 2004, and replaced it with No. 28 in 2007, and continued to wear the same number even after signing a four-year FA contract with Doosan for a total of 8.4 billion won (8.3 million U.S. dollars) in 2015. He announced his retirement in October last year, putting down No. 28.
Choi Seung-yong, who contacted OSEN on the 3rd, said, “Last year, I told him in advance that I would wear number 28 when (Jang) Won-jun retires. I said I would take over the number from him myself. At first, he jokingly told me to permanently leave number 28,” explaining why he engraved number 28 on his back.
Jang Won-joon was a key player in the Doosan Dynasty in the past. In 2015, he recorded 12 wins, 12 losses and an ERA of 4.08 in 30 games, the first year of his four-year FA contract, and in the following year, he led the team to win the title as a member of the Fantastic Four in 27 games with 15 wins, 6 losses and an ERA of 3.32. He won 14 games in 2017, and has won 10 games for eight consecutive years since 2008, when he was with Lotte.
Jang’s last year of career was called “romantic baseball.” He started the game against Samsung in Jamsil on May 23 for the first time in 958 days since the game against SK (currently SSG) on October 7, 2020, and garnered his first win in 1,844 days since the game against LG on May 5, 2018, marking his 11th career win and fourth career win as a left-hander. He also garnered 130 wins in 37 years, nine months, and 22 days, beating Song Jin-woo (34 years, four months, and 18 days), the oldest left-hander ever to record 130 wins.
Even at a late age last year, Jang served as a substitute whenever there was a hole in the starting rotation, dedicating himself to his team. As a result, he set a milestone of making his ninth 2,000th inning in the game against SSG in Incheon on Oct. 17, the final game. Jang’s professional record is 132 wins, 119 losses, one save and 14 hold average earned run of 4.28 in 446 games.
What would it feel like to inherit a 132-win legend’s uniform number? “I still can’t believe it. I think I can feel it only when I get the uniform with No. 28 engraved on it,” Choi said. “No. 64 was designated by my club when I was a rookie, but I still have a lot of affection for it, so I’m a little disappointed.”
The number “28” is expected to serve as an opportunity to further develop Choi. As he inherited the number of left-hander who once represented the Republic of Korea, he should be responsible and constantly strive to display performance appropriate for him.
Choi Seung-yong expressed his new determination, saying, “Jang Won-joon performed tremendously in Doosan and the KBO League. The weight of the numbers is different, and I think fans’ expectations will arise when I put them on, so I will work hard to meet them.”
Choi is a left-handed prospect discovered by Doosan Bears two years ago. After graduating from Sorae High School, Choi ranked 20th in the second round of the 2021 Rookie of the Year draft, and posted an ERA of 3.93 in 15 games and two holds in his first year, before joining the postseason, and gaining valuable experience of seven games. He displayed strong spirit by allowing no run in three games, one ⅔ and one inning in the big stage of the Korean Series, drawing attention as a left-handed pitcher who will lead Doosan Bears in the future.
What’s surprising is that Choi Seung-yong played baseball as a weekend hobby until his second year of middle school, but began playing elite baseball in earnest in his third year. Nevertheless, he played various pitches such as fastballs, sliders, curves, and splitters along with his flexible pitching form in high school, and contributed to Soraego’s advance to the round of 16 by beating Yatago, the favorite, at the 74th Golden Lion.
Choi Seung-yong also became an issue at the Ulsan spring camp in February 2022. At that time, former head coach Sun Dong-yeol of the “national treasure” transformed into a daily pitching instructor for the Bears, looked closely at Doosan pitchers, watched Choi Seung-yong’s pitch closely, and gave the best praise, saying, “I have nothing to tell you for real.”
Choi joined the starting rotation last year by impressing manager Lee Seung-yeop, and left an impressive record of three wins, six losses, one save and an ERA of 3.97 in 34 games. He had to move back and forth between starting pitcher and bullpen due to growing pains in the first half of the year, but he regained stability in the second half, contributing to Doosan’s return to the postseason with one win and one save and an ERA of 1.90. In addition, in the first wild card game against NC, he pitched well with one strikeout and 10 pitches in one inning, showing off his strong performance in big games again.
Choi made the national team of APBC (Asian Professional Baseball Championship) 마카오토토주소 and achieved his first ever dream of becoming a national team player. Since then, he has revealed the lineage of Korean left-handed pitchers by boldly throwing his own ball at the Tokyo Dome, known as the heart of Japanese baseball. Considering his career and potential overall, he is capable of inheriting Jang’s jersey number.
Choi plans to train for the Tottori World Wing Training Center in Japan for two weeks with his agency family, including his teammate Lee Byung-hun, around mid-January. In order to successfully hold the spring camp for the first team in Sydney, Australia, in February, he has decided to conduct pre-training at Tottori, the mecca of flexibility training.
“The fans’ expectations must have increased because I showed good performances in the second half of last year, and I have high expectations for myself,” Choi said. “First of all, I’m not sick. And I want to improve more than the second half of last year. Just as (Kwak) Bin is getting better, I’ll follow him and show him how I’m getting better.”
The goal of the 2024 season, which is already in its fourth year as a pro, is full-time starting pitcher for the first time since its debut. “I have no desire to win. If you are a starting pitcher, you should fill the required innings. I want to fill the prescribed innings while playing the full-time starting pitcher,” Choi said.