If you had left Korea at that time, would there have been a KBO reverse export story now?
The first player to become the winning pitcher in both the Korean Series and World Series, Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona Diamondbacks)’s KBO League career could have lasted two years instead of four. Kelly, who came to the unfamiliar land of Korea by signing a contract with SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) in 2015, planned to return to the United States after finishing 2016.
The American ‘The Athletic’ told the story of Kelly, who led Arizona’s 9-1 victory by defeating the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the World Series on the 29th (Korean time) by allowing 3 hits (1 home run), no walks, 9 strikeouts, and 1 run in 7 innings. reported. As is well known, Kelly dreamed of making his Major League debut based on his success in the KBO League, but the story of how he almost left Korea after two years is not well known.
According to The Athletic, Kelly told her agent Adam Caron in 2016, “Life in Korea has reached its limit. “He wants to return to the United States, even if it means signing a minor league contract,” he said. He was so determined to leave Korea that he even told his wife, Bree, and older brother, Reed, the same thing.
At that time, Agent Charon put the brakes on. I contacted his wife and brother and told them bluntly, “Don’t let Kelly do that.” He stayed in Korea because he could make more money than his minor league contract. At that time, Kelly was not at the level of attracting major league attention.
Kelly, who reluctantly stayed in Korea due to his agent’s dissuasion, played for two more years until 2018 and then moved to the United States. He achieved his dream of becoming a big leaguer at the late age of 31 when he signed a major league contract with Arizona in recognition of his four-year KBO league career. And this fall, five years later, he reached his dream stage of the World Series and became the protagonist with the best pitch.굿모닝토토 주소
Caron, the agent who tried to stop Kelly from leaving Korea seven years ago, also visited Globe Life Field in Texas, where the game was held, with Kelly’s family. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Caron, who recalled that time. “Unlike ordinary players, Kelly was tough and smart enough to last in Korea until he had a chance to return with a major league contract.”
The four-year journey was by no means an easy journey for Kelly, who thought he could win a major league contract if he did well in Korea for just one year. It wasn’t because he hated Korea. His desire to play in the major leagues was greater than anything else. Kelly said, “I could have stayed in Korea for a long time and become complacent without trying to get better. But that wasn’t my option. “That wasn’t enough.”
A multi-year contract with SK that included an option ended with the 2018 Korean Series win, and Kelly, who became a free agent, received a 2+2 year guaranteed $5.5 million offer from Arizona, finally realizing his dream of becoming a big leaguer. Since then, he has been performing steadily and stably as a key starter for Arizona for the past five years. Before last year’s season, he signed a 2+1 year guaranteed $18 million extension contract with a club option for 2025.
In a broadcast interview with Fox Sports after winning Game 2 of the World Series, Kelly said, “I dreamed of a day like this even when I was in Korea. But at the time, it was just a dream,” he said. “I am really grateful to the Arizona team for giving me this opportunity.”
The Athletic described this day as, ‘It was the kind of night Kelly imagined after waking up in the morning, making coffee, and watching major league baseball during his four seasons in Korea.’ “To be honest, I think moving to Korea at 26 is a lot more scary than pitching in the big leagues or the World Series,” Kelly said. “When he went to Korea, he literally felt like he was far away,” he reflected.
The major leagues seemed so far away, but Kelly became the most notable pitcher on this stage this fall. In 4 games (24 innings) this postseason, including the World Series, he emerged as a star by showing off his power with 3 wins, 1 loss, an ERA of 2.25, 28 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 0.83. Fellow pitcher Jack Gallen, who forms a one-two punch with Kelly in Arizona, said, “It may be late for Kelly to be recognized, but it is very deserved. “I think he is the most underrated pitcher in the league.”
Arizona suffered a shocking 5-6 comeback loss in the first game, but Kelly dominated the Texas batting line in the second game and balanced the game with 1 win and 1 loss. Kelly, who started off the game with 11 consecutive perfect hits until the 4th inning and 2 outs, allowed the only run to be a solo home run to Mitch Garber in the 5th inning. Highest 94.1 mph (151.4 km), average 92.8 mph (149.3 km) In addition to four-seam fastballs (17), changeups (22), cutters (21), sinkers (15), sliders (10), and curves (4) ), etc., were used evenly. Even though he didn’t have a fiery fastball, he commanded various types of pitches to where he wanted them, and even the Texas sluggers were unable to move.