There is still a month left until the final entry for the WBC (World Baseball Classic) is submitted. In the meantime, is there any possibility that the best pitcher in the KBO League, Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), will be on the national team? Can we see the An Woo-jin selection controversy as the final stage?
‘Hot Potato’ Ahn Woo-jin was not promoted to the national team. On the 4th, Cho Beom-hyeon, technical director of the WBC national team, unveiled the final 30 players who will participate in the WBC in March next year at the KBO in Dogok-dong, Seoul. As for the pitching position, 15 people, half of the total entries, were named, and among them, Ahn Woo-jin was not named. Previously excluded from the list of 50 players, he failed to make it to the final entry and failed to participate in the WBC World Cup.
Ahn Woo-jin, in his 5th year as a pro last year, fought hard with an average ERA of 2.11 with 15 wins and 8 losses in 30 games and was reborn as a league ace from Kiwoom ace. In the category of earned run average, he surpassed national team leader Kim Gwang-hyun (2.13 SSG), catching 224 strikeouts and easily beating NC ace Drew Luchinski (194). This is the second most strikeouts in a single season in the KBO League, following Ariel Miranda (225 strikeouts) in 2021. 1 among Korean pitchers. And thanks to this, he even had the Golden Glove, the highest honor for a pitcher.
Looking at the results alone, the Taegeuk mark is not inferior to the starter for the Korea-Japan match. Finally, it seemed that a national ace was born following Kwang-Hyun Kim (SSG) and Hyeon-Jong Yang (KIA). However, Ahn Woo-jin was punished by permanent disqualification from the national team of the Korea Sports Association and the Korea Baseball Softball Association for committing school violence during Whimoon High School. As a result, it is impossible to participate in international competitions organized by the Korea Olympic Committee, such as the Olympics and Asian Games. Since the WBC is a tournament organized by the Major League Secretariat, there are no restrictions on participation, but even the KBO Technical Committee eventually turned a blind eye to him.
The reason was simple. He could not grant the sacred Taegeuk mark to a player with a history of discipline for school violence. Chairman Cho Beom-hyeon explained the reason for excluding Ahn Woo-jin, saying, “In selecting players, we considered difficult factors such as skills, symbolic meaning of the national team representing the country, responsibility, and pride.”
However, from the perspective of the KBO, which aims for revival based on international competition results, it is regrettable that Ahn Woo-jin is excluded. Korea’s biggest rivals, such as the United States and Japan, are building the strongest power ever, and Korea must face strong Japan from the first round of the finals in the bracket table. The venue is Tokyo Dome, the home of Japan. Ahn Woo-jin, who has a fastball of 150 km/h and a slider comparable to the fastball, was evaluated as having enough success on the international stage.
Is that why? Neither Chairman Cho Beom-hyeon nor national team coach Lee Kang-cheol could give a clear answer to the question of whether the controversy over An Woo-jin’s national team could be viewed as an end. Chairman Cho Beom-hyun hesitated for a while, then left some room, saying, “Depending on whether there are injured players, it is possible to move one or two players.”
The deadline for submitting the WBC final entry is the 8th of next month in Korean time. There is still one month left, and according to WBC rules, players who have problems with medical can be freely replaced. Of course, for now, there is a high possibility that the 30 members announced on the 4th will take the same flight to Tokyo, but in any case, if an injury variable occurs, the member will have to be replaced. 토토
However, in that case, it is unclear whether Ahn Woo-jin will take the place. If he had considered the selection of An Woo-jin, he would have put his name on the list of 50 people to watch earlier. It seems difficult for Ahn Woo-jin to board the ship unless sympathy is created in relation to past school violence. Chairman Cho also said, “I chose the current 30 people after thinking about it for a long time. If there is no injury issue, it can be said that there is no possibility of a player replacement.”
Ahn Woo-jin was ignored by the national team even after conquering the KBO league after 5 years of debut. Controversy over school violence that followed him like a tag from the time he joined the pro team blocked his dream of a Taegeuk mark.