The king has come from Korea” KBO Leaguer everyone was surprised… Goodbye to the sadness that I envied my friends for 4 years.

When SK (now SSG) announced that it had recruited a new foreign pitcher named Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona) ahead of the 2015 season, there were actually few people who were seriously interested in this player. He also didn’t have much experience to show off. His salary was also the lowest among foreign pitchers in the league.

Kelly was a typical minor league pitcher who had not played a single game in the major leagues until then. The majority of foreign players coming to the KBO League are those whose careers are on the decline, but there are still some who have played in the big league for at least one season or at most three or more seasons. But Kelly had none of that. There were some excuses to take comfort in the fact that Tampa Bay’s pitching farm was good.

In fact, Kelly’s friends were entering the major league stage one after another at the time. Conversely, Kelly signed with SK and chose life in the far-off Eastern league. It’s not easy to get into the major leagues right now, so it’s a plan for the future. Until then, no one could have predicted that such a player would become a 10-win pitcher in the major leagues and a postseason hero. Perhaps Kelly himself was like that.

Kelly threw 90 pitches in 5 innings in Game 6 of the Championship Series against Philadelphia in the 2023 Major League Postseason held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 24th (Korean time), allowing 3 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, and 1 run. He unfolded the story and saved the team from the edge of a cliff. Thanks to scoring early in the game, Kelly’s good pitching, and Ketel Marte’s performance in the second half of the game, Arizona won 5-1 and raised the series record to 3-3. Arizona will attempt to advance to the World Series in Game 7 on the 25th.

The batting lineup was good at the right time, but it was also a game where Kelly’s contribution could not be left out. He calmly threw the ball in the famously brutal Philadelphia enemy territory and destroyed the Philadelphia batting lineup, which was full of players who could take a hit. It was also Kelly’s second postseason victory this season.

Kelly is gaining national recognition thanks to his performance in this postseason. He started by destroying the Giants in Game 1 of the Division Series against the LA Dodgers on the 8th. At that time, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher was veteran Clayton Kershaw. Arizona, which had already lost its ace Jack Gallen in the wild card game, had no choice but to entrust the heavy responsibility to Kelly, but Kelly put the Dodgers’ batting lineup to rest with a pitch that allowed 3 hits and no runs in 6⅓ innings, creating a huge momentum for Arizona. This led to Arizona’s shocking series sweep.

And on the 24th, he literally became a hero by saving Arizona from the brink. After the game, local general media outlet ‘Kronkit News (CN)’ focused on Kelly’s performance and titled it ‘King from Korea.’ The media said, ‘Kelly worked hard in the KBO League for four years, confident that he would one day find a way to advance to the major leagues. He described how he started every morning by checking the performance of his friends who had already made it to the big leagues.

In an interview with this media outlet, Kelly confessed that he was currently staying in the KBO league and was aware of the fact that it would be difficult to get to the major leagues in the foreseeable future. But he added: “I never accepted that that would be the end of his career.” Not giving up or becoming complacent and pursuing his dream of advancing to the major leagues ultimately led to success.

SSG officials reminisce about Kelly’s past and are confident that “he has improved a lot while pitching in the KBO League.” Pitch types such as cut fastballs have been further refined in Korea, and game management has also improved as players participate in more games. In fact, after Game 6 of the Championship Series, the local media commented, “Kelly threw five pitches freely, confusing the Philadelphia batters.” Of course, he was a player who threw a variety of pitches when he came to Korea, but he did not throw a variety of pitches as well as he does now.굿모닝토토 도메인

Kelly was thrilled to make his major league debut at the age of over 30, signing a 2+2 year contract with Arizona following the 2018 season. And he established a stable foundation by concluding his second contract, which includes $18 million (about 24.3 billion won) for two years in 2023 and 2024 and a team option of $7 million (about 9.4 billion won) for 2025. Kelly has become a financially successful player, earning $23 million (about 31 billion won) from 2019 to this year.

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