Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Hyun-il Choi

With the absence of major league action and the beginning of minor league camp, most of the emphasis is on the Los Angeles farm system, at least for fans of the Dodgers. This comes with good reason, as some of the Los Angeles blue chip prospects are among the best in the game.

Depending on which outlet you follow, the Dodgers rank somewhere in the Top 10 of all the minor league systems in the game. And it’s probably fair to say that they have some of baseball’s best blue chippers in their overall prospect pool.

Already, we’ve seen Andy Pages consistently crush the ball into the gaps, Bobby Miller touch triple digits on multiple occasions, and Diego Cartaya blast a homer into a parking lot beyond an outfield wall. It’s displays like these that remind us how good the Los Angeles farm actually is.

On Sunday, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register shared a quote from director of player development Will Rhymes on how some of the youngsters are looking so far. “”It’s incredible,” Rhymes said. “It hit me a few days ago. We were playing camp games and the level of play is extremely high on both sides of the ball. It’s almost surprising at this time of year, where some of the guys are at. It’s really high quality.”

One of the players often forgotten over the past few seasons is righty pitcher Hyun il-Choi, an international signee in 2018. All that changed, though, after the 6-foot-2, 21-year-old South Korean native last year took home the Dodgers’ 2021 Minor League Player of the Year Award.

With the pandemic season behind him, Choi finally had a chance to settle into a routine, throwing at two different levels. He started the season for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga in the hitter-friendly confines of the Cal League and finished up in the Midwest League at High-A Great Lakes. Between both levels he made 24 appearances, 11 of which were starts, registering an 8-6 record with a 3.55 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP with 106 punchouts over 106-1/3 innings of work.

Choi is a control artist, which probably weighed heavily on the Dodgers’ decision to sign him. Last season, he only walked 18 batters — a rarity for a 21-year-old farmhand in the minors. According to Eric Stephen of TrueBlue LA, Choi had a stretch of five games and 25⅔ innings without a walk, and another string of four straight games without a walk, over 18 innings.”

Plunkett says that Choi attacks hitters with an arsenal that features a low-to-mid-90s fastball and an excellent changeup he developed with help from former big-league reliever Joel Peralta.

“The main thing that stands out is his strike-throwing ability,” Rhymes added. “His command of his fastball is excellent and his pitchability is really advanced. His changeup is his best pitch. It really neutralizes lefties, so he’s able to navigate the lineup multiple times.”

Heading into 2022, it should be interesting to see how Choi fares against the competition in the upper levels of the minors. Where and how he finishes the year should be a good indicator of what the Dodgers really have.

44 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Hyun-il Choi

  1. We tend to forget about Choi when talking about our future starters, probably because he’s a bit farther away than Miller, Pepiot and Knack. That said, he might just turn out to be a really important part of the rotation in two or three years.

    It would sure be nice if he had as much success as Chan-Ho Park and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

    1. If u have control and a several pitch repertoire you can pitch in the MLB. Look at Maddux. Every hitter has weaknesses and if u can pitch to those you can get anyone out. Sure there are guys like Trout that are able to hit anything but he is a generational talent. I wonder what the Dodger rotation in 2023 or 24 will look like? The Dodgers have several young pitchers that will compete for that rotation.

      1. The basics of pitching have been the same for a long time. I think the difference now may be both hitters and pitchers are better than they’ve ever been.

        To get the better hitters out the first rule is don’t make a mistake over the middle of the plate. Second – high and tight, low and away, change speeds, change locations. That’s been around since Abner was a minnow. Everything spins. Two seamers go down both directions. Circle change screws down and in arm side. The guys who can spot all that will pitch in the bigs. Pepiot has the change, Miller has all four pitches, fastball 65 slider 60 being his best pitches. Control being what will keep him off roster for the time being. Personally I think if these two were in another, less competitive organization, they’d be pitching in the bigs now.

      2. I like the rotation. If the Dodgers can have 3 new young home grown pitchers in the rotation they can pay the players that will be coming up for contracts. And sign Freeman if that happens. I wonder if other pitchers like Gonsolin, Grove, Jackson, White, or Choi make the rotation. The incredible news is the Dodgers have that kind of talent in young pitchers. I am hoping the Dodgers do not trade a bunch of prospects for average pitchers to fill an immediate need. I would rather they patch in Gonsolin and others and see how they do. The team should score well enough to bridge some rookies getting hit for 1/2 the season as they transition to the MLB.

      3. There’s Bauer too.

        The Dodgers don’t go through a normal rebuilding like other teams do. They reload, and if it means trading prospects they will. Would I trade for Montas or Castillo? Yes. Who? I think I keep Miller, but I would use Pepiot or Knack in the package.

      4. Those kind of trades are always tough to ponder.
        Do you trade a guy you think might be in your rotation for 6-7 years for a guy you only have 2 years of control on? Maybe the guy you’re trading becomes a Cy Young winner. Maybe he flames out, a la Zach Lee. I think you’ve probably got a handle on the way AF is thinking. He keeps Miller, would trade Knack, and would swallow hard and trade Pepiot for the right return.

      5. We may not need to make a trade. If Bauer is back, we could alternate 5th starters for a while. Who knows how many games there will be.

      6. At one time all the MLB commentators agreed Bauer would never pitch for the Dodgers again. All the sources I read currently say Bauer will be suspended for 2022 & the Dodgers will buy him out of 2023. Have you read something different? The Bauer deal is a disaster for Friedman & Kasten and show that sometimes even very competent people make mistakes if they do not stay vigilant. The smoke of rumors etc was out there but they either arrogantly dismissed them or missed them either way their fault.

      7. I have mixed feelings as to whether I would want Bauer back but I would be absolutely astonished if MLB suspended him for the entire season.

        My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that he’ll be suspended but it will be for time served, so he’ll be eligible to come back pretty much immediately. The ball will then be in Friedman’s court (or diamond, as the case may be). Of course, considering how quickly Manfred acts on these types of things, or anything for that matter, we probably won’t find out about his Bauer ruling until sometime in 2027.

      8. I agree on Manfred. He lacks a spine. His management of the lock out or lack of same screams for him to be fired. I believe Bauer was back to being average after the substance checks so not sure how much help he will be but good for a 3-5 starter.

      9. I am not a Manfred fan by any means, but let’s face it, he’s just a tool of the owners. They hire him, they pay him. He does what they want.

        The MLBPA will be delighted to know that a number 3-5 starter can earn 40 mil per year. That will make all the number ones and twos very happy.

      10. It seems logical that after whatever, if any, suspension is handed out Bauer would be back with the team that owns his contract. If the Dodgers have him they have 5 starters. I’ve decided I don’t care about his kinky personal life. None of my business.

  2. Hey Scoop. A little English birdie told me it’s your birthday today.
    Happy Birthday, my friend. You have to be very old to have gathered as much wisdom as you have.
    Enjoy the day!

    1. You connected to W? He always remembers because he has a nephew or something with the same birthday. When I was in Arizona I went to Camelback every year at this time. Anyway, thanks.

      1. W posted at LADT.
        Did you know you share a birthday with Yadier Alvarez? Too bad he got the Lambo. It would have looked better on you.

      2. I share a birthday with Justin Turner, Gavin Lux and Ross Stripling.
        I would have been a Dodger if only they had expanded the rosters.

      3. I was going to be drafted sometime after Radford Mawhinney but went to boot camp instead. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

      4. Looks like you had similar careers even though he was drafted a lot higher than you were.

  3. It seems like Mark Feinsand has decided he’d rather be the owners mouthpiece than an unbiased reporter. I guess that’s what happens when the league owned mlb channel pays reporters to work their show, they also get to use them for their propaganda.

    1. I agree Keith that he seems like he’s definitely on the owners’ side, but maybe he actually favors their side and isn’t doing it to keep a job.

      I’ve followed him for a long time and I think he’s a good journalist. Doesn’t mean he can’t have lost his way, but I don’t see you having a problem with Kenny Rosenthal and Jeff Passan who could easily be on the players’ payroll if you want to apply the same thought process. It’s important for them to keep a good relationship with the players so they can get information and interviews with them during the season. As far as I can tell, all three of those guys are very good at their craft and I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. You might not agree.

      I totally understand how you feel about the two sides and please don’t take this as a criticism of your viewpoint, but it seems to me what’s good for one group should also apply to the other.

      Personally, I think both sides are at fault for not seeing the greater picture here, that being they need fans to support their income and they are rapidly losing that audience.

      Another meeting set for tomorrow. MLB now indicates they might find a way to play the whole schedule if they can reach a deal tomorrow. What do you think the odds of that happening are? Oh well, miracles do happen.

      1. You know jeff I’m not exactly sure that there is a “greater picture” here. I would love to see the financial statements without all the bs. But I tend to side with the owners. Almost every writer talks about revenues, which is not to relevant, to the financial operation. In any event few businesses will show their Financials to employees so why should baseball? Isn’t Toronto a public company? Oh. Large Conglomerate so they can probably hide most of it.

      2. I’ve never been a part of a union vs. employer negotiation so have no clue if those are subject to the company showing their books. I know that any public company would, of course, have all of that out in the open anyway.

        What I don’t understand is why baseball is still exempt from the Sherman Anti Trust Act when the NBA, NHL and NFL aren’t. Supposedly, the reasoning behind the original ruling is that baseball was just a sport and not a business. Har har hardy har har, as Jackie Gleason used to say.

  4. From the Athletic:

    Muncy was involved in an ugly collision during the final game of the regular season, resulting in a torn UCL to his left (non-throwing) elbow. He opted for rehab instead of surgery, indicating a partial tear to the ligament that would (hopefully) heal on its own. I understand the decision given he’s a position player and it’s to his throwing arm, but there are varying results when going the rehab route. Early on in his recovery Muncy expressed some frustration that the elbow was slow to heal. Now five months removed from the injury, Muncy still isn’t swinging the bat. He said last week that he’s close, but he isn’t ready yet. That’s concerning.

    Muncy should benefit from the delayed start to the season. Once he is cleared for more baseball activities he would likely need anywhere from 6-12 weeks before he is ready to appear in a game. A later start means less time missed. Unfortunately I am expecting a drop in his performance at the plate whenever he does return.The UCL, which sits on the inside of the elbow, is crucial for stability. Any type of violent torque (what takes place when swinging the bat) puts stress on the UCL and surrounding tendons and ligaments. If the UCL isn’t as strong as it was before the injury, that leaves Muncy vulnerable to another arm injury. Muncy may need to alter his hitting motion to accomodate for any pain associated with the UCL damage, but that also isn’t a good thing. I’m hoping that Muncy’s delay in swinging the bat is because they are being very cautious and not because he is still experiencing pain. If there is still significant instability and/or pain at this point then surgery should be considered.

    1. I thought when he was interviewed a few days ago he said he was swinging the bat now and indicated he expected to be ready to open the season.

      All the more reason, I guess, to go hard after Freddie or Olson or someone who could spend a lot of time at first base this year.

      1. Obviously Muncy needs to hit and hit right away. Sounds like there is a possibility surgery would be needed.

      2. In that interview, Max said every doctor he talked to (apparently more than one) said that surgery wasn’t necessary. Hopefully they were right.

      3. I’m not thrilled with Muncy playing anywhere but first base. I am also not thrilled in giving Freeman a 6 year contract. It’s time for Taylor to break in another glove and play first until Muncy can swing a bat with authority.

      4. You know we’re not going to see CT-3 playing first.
        We need to trade for Garrett Cooper (Marlins). He plays first base and outfield, hits right handed, has pretty even splits and would be the perfect addition to the roster.

  5. The two sides are meeting again today. MLB says today is the last chance to get in a full 162 game season. I share my birthday with Old Glory.

      1. Yep, I was 21 before I realized they were not putting the flag up to celebrate my birthday! Baseball news. Royals signed Brad Peacock. MLB signed a deal with Apple to stream Friday night baseball. The salary insanity has spread to football as Green Bay signs Rogers to a 4 year 200 million dollar deal. Seahawks trade Russell Wilson to the Broncos.

      2. Wilson to Denver makes sense. 4 and $200 million doesn’t. That’s gonna make Rodgers, a graduate of Pleasant Valley High School where I did my student teaching, a bigger jerk than he already is, which is huge. I don’t want to wish him any ill will, just colossal failure sometime soon.

  6. Jeff, I always thought Feinsand was a well respected writer, I think that’s what got my attention with his posts, I expect a writer with his reputation to not come off like he was an owner’s spokesman.

    You make a good point about Rosenthal, and Passan, being the flip side of the coin, it may be true, but I have much more faith in Rosenthal to write an honest article, than I now do Feinsand. You got to give Ken credit, he was willing to write an article that he knew would not be popular with one of his employers, but he did it anyway, I’m guessing, because he felt it needed to be said.

  7. 4/200m is a staggering number, but with the dearth of real good, top quarterbacks in the NFL, it doesn’t surprise me as much as it should.

  8. Looks like they’re making some real progress tonight. Owners have come back with what I consider to be a pretty decent proposal.
    1) Minimum salary – $700MM, goes to $770MM over 5 years (major increase over the last contract)
    2) Pre-arb number raised to $40MM and stays the same over the length of the CBA (this is something that didn’t even exist in the last contract)
    3) All rule changes can be implemented during the off season (I believe this begins next off season)
    4) CBT starts at $230MM and goes to $242MM over the 5 years
    5) Third penalty tier added to CBT – penalties come in at +$20MM, +$40MM, +60MM (no one has given the % amounts of the penalties yet)
    6) Elimination of Qualifying Offer will be tied to the adaptation of an international draft (ultimately more money will be spent per year on international players than before but each level will have a specific $ amount tied to it.)
    7) MLB now willing to do a 12 team playoff instead of 14

    It’s time to settle this thing. I don’t expect the players to just agree to all the points immediately but I don’t see any reason the two sides can’t agree on this within the next day or two with only some minor changes. I’ve been neutral up until this point, but I think if the players walk away this time, they’ll take a major p.r. hit.

Leave a Reply