Full Name: Shin-Soo Choo
Born: 7-13-82 (Pusan, South Korea)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 210 pounds
High School: Pusan High School (Pusan, South Korea)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Positions: LF, CF, RF
Service Time: ~0.100
Option Years: 1 (2007)
- Renewable (possible arbitration)
- Free Agent
Choo was signed by the Seattle Mariners after playing with the 2000 Korean Junior National Team, spending most of his time on the mound. The Mariners immediately made him into an center fielder. His professional debut came in 2001 in the Arizona League, where he hit .302/.420/.513 as an 19-year-old. He followed that nice debut with a .302/.417/.440 line at Wisconsin (A-) in 2002, combining good patience with extra-base power.
The Mariners moved him up another level in 2003, to the California League, where his walks dropped but his power and speed numbers stayed rather consistent. Choo continued to hit in 2004 at AA San Antonio, but the Mariners started to shift him to right field to compensate for his lack of rang in center, and also to take advantage of his powerful throwing arm. But as a corner outfielder, Choo's power numbers came more into question, those questions increased after Choo's power dropped in his first season in the Pacific Coast League in 2005.
Keep in mind that the Mariners had well-entrenched corner outfielders at this time in Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki. And even though Choo could probably play center in needed, they had Jeremy Reed, who was acquired from the White Sox in 2004, penciled in as their starter. So in 2006 Choo repeated a level for the first time in his professional career.
July 2006 saw the Mariners surprisingly in the midst of the AL West race, and GM Bill Bavasi began to look to improve his team. One obvious hole on the club was at DH, where a disastrous season by Carl Everett had made the spot in the order a major liability. The Mariners had acquired Eddie Perez from the Indians previously, and now they wanted to acquire Ben Broussard to platoon with Perez. Choo, who had briefly played with the team after Jeremy Reed went on the Disabled List, was still blocked, and was deemed expendable given his troubles in center and logjams at the corners. So Choo was sent to Cleveland (along with a PTBNL) for Broussard.
The Indians gave Choo regular at-bats in right field against right-handed pitching the remainder of the season, and he fared rather well in his first extended major-league experience, hitting .295/.373/.473 with the Tribe the rest of the way.
2000: Signed with the Seattle Mariners as a non-drafted free agent
Started 2001 with AZL Mariners (R-)
9-2001: Promoted to Wisconsin (A-)
Started 2002 in Wisconsin (A-)
8-22-02: Promoted to San Bernadino (A+)
Started 2003 in Inland Empire (A+)
Started 2004 in San Antonio (AA)
Played in 2004 Arizona Fall League
11-04: Contract Purchased by Seattle
4-05: Optioned to Tacoma (AAA)
4-20-05: Recalled by Seattle (MLB Debut)
5-3-05: Optioned to Tacoma (AAA)
9-17-05: Recalled by Seattle
4-06: Optioned to Tacoma (AAA)
7-3-06: Recalled by Seattle
7-13-06: Optioned to Tacoma (AAA)
7-26-06: Traded along with a PTBNL to the Cleveland Indians for 1B Ben Broussard; Recalled by Cleveland
Choo's broad range of tools and skills. He can hit for average and has above-average speed and a very potent throwing arm.
Choo hasn't been able to solve left-handed pitching. His routes to the ball are at times circuitous, leaving him better suited to the corners than center. His line-drive stroke doesn't seem conducive to hitting home runs.
As things stand, Choo's the starting right fielder. He'll probably be sitting a lot versus left-handed pitching, with Casey Blake taking his place in those situations. Blake looks like the primary backup at three positions (right field, first, and third), so Choo's playing time will depend on his own performance as well as how Andy Marte and Ryan Garko do in their first full seasons in the majors.
As with any young player his second time around, there will be adjustments made by opposing pitchers. Choo should see more breaking pitches, especially in fastball counts.