CHOO, SHIN-SOO  
 
Image of    Nickname:   N/A Position:   RF
Home: Goodyear, Arizona Team:   RANGERS
Height: 5' 11" Bats:   L
Weight: 210 Throws:   L
DOB: 7/30/1982 Agent: Scott Boras
Birth City: Pusan, South Korea Draft: 2000 - Mariners - Free agent - Out of So. Korea
Uniform #: 17  
 
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2001 AZL Mariners   51 199 51 60 10 10 4 35 12   34 49     .302
2001 MWL WISCONSIN   3 13 1 6 0 0 0 3 2   1 3     .462
2002 MWL WISCONSIN   119 420 69 127 24 8 6 48 34   70 98     .302
2002 CAL SAN BERNARDINO   11 39 14 12 5 1 1 9 3   9 9     .308
2003 CAL INLAND EMPIRE   110 412 62 118 18 13 9 55 18   44 84     .286
2004 TL SAN ANTONIO   132 517 89 163 17 7 15 84 40   56 97     .315
2005 PCL TACOMA   115 429 73 121 21 5 11 54 20   69 97     .282
2005 Al MARINERS $316.00 10 18 1 1 0 0 0 1 0   3 4     .056
2006 PCL TACOMA   94 375 71 121 21 3 13 48 26 4 45 73 .394 .499 .323
2006 AL MARINERS   4 11 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .167 .182 .091
2006 AL INDIANS   4 11 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .167 .182 .091
2007 IL BUFFALO BISONS   59 208 34 54 11 2 3 26 10 3 21 40 .328 .375 .260
2007 AL INDIANS   6 17 5 5 0 0 0 5 0 1 2 5 .350 .294 .294
2008 IL BUFFALO   12 42 1 11 2 0 1 3 1 3 5 14   .381 .262
2008 AL INDIANS $390.00 94 317 68 98 28 3 14 66 4 3 44 78 .397 .549 .309
2009 AL INDIANS $420.00 156 583 87 175 38 6 20 86 21 2 78 151 .394 .489 .300
2010 EL AKRON   3 11 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 .091 .091 .091
2010 AL INDIANS $461.00 144 550 81 165 31 2 22 90 22 7 83 118 .401 .484 .300
2011 MWL LAKE COUNTY   3 8 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000
2011 AL INDIANS $3,975.00 85 313 37 81 11 3 8 36 12 5 36 78 .344 .390 .259
2012 AL INDIANS $4,900.00 155 598 88 169 43 2 16 67 21 7 73 150 .373 .441 .283
2013 NL REDS $7,375.00 154 569 107 162 34 2 21 54 20 11 112 133 .423 .462 .285
2014 AL RANGERS   16 58 7 17 2 1 1 4 1 1 12 17 .417 .414 .293
PERSONAL:

  • Choo went to South Korea's Pusan High School, which had a baseball academy that was run like a boot camp: There were 5:00 a.m. wake-up calls, morning practices, afternoon practices, grueling hours in the weight room at night. The boys lived on campus and saw their families on Sundays.

    "We didn't study. All we did was play baseball, think baseball, nothing but baseball," says Choo. "The problem is, if you don't make it in baseball, what do you do?"

    He was 18 years old and "the best amateur pitcher in the world," insists Mariners Pacific Rim operations director Ted Heid.
  • In August 2000, the Mariners signed Choo, even though he didn't graduate from Pusan High School in South Korea until February 2001. 

    He was a legitimate two-way player, capable of both hitting and pitching. He can throw 95 mph, and was named the best pitcher in 1999 and 2000 at the President's Cup—Korea's top high school competition. He also hit .610 with 5 home runs.

    Choo had to do what few ballplayers from his homeland have dared to try: make it in the U.S. "I had to have a big, big dream," he says. "I could have stayed in Korea like everyone else, but I wanted to play the best baseball in the world. No one else wanted to come. They were scared. I wanted to come."

  •  

    Koreans don't need to come to the U.S. to prove anything. The professional league there is very competitive; the players are well-paid. There's a lot of national pride. To be willing to risk everything to come to the U.S.? It takes a very special person.

    No one believed the boy would make it in America, not even his own parents, who accompanied him to the U.S. after he signed with the Mariners out of high school, in 2000. Yes, the $1.3 million signing bonus was big for his family, but the risks were enormous. If their son failed at baseball in the U.S., he would be banned from playing baseball in Korea for two years.

     
  • Choo is powered by a work ethic that comes from his father, a former boxer and track athlete who always told him, "In sports, nobody cares about who finishes second." Says Indians executive Mark Shapiro: "(Tribe G.M.) Chris [Antonetti] and I stay on East Coast time during spring training [in Arizona], so we're in the weight room at 5:00 a.m., and he's the only player there, riding the bike before the full workout and the full spring training day."

  • Choo's daily routine includes hundreds of fingertip push-ups to strengthen his wrists and hands, dozens of swings off a tee, as well as a bowl of piping hot noodle soup, which he has after pregame BP sessions. Every night at home he takes 150 swings with a bat just before he goes to sleep.

     

    • Shin-Soo is an exciting player to watch. He works hard, and has adapted well to the American culture. "What I like about America is that all the best players from the world come here to compete, so being involved in that makes me happy," Choo said.

      In 2002, Wisconsin manager Gary Thurman said Choo was just one of the guys. "He’s a great guy," said Thurman, in his third year as Timber Rattlers skipper. "He knows enough English to get him by, and he has fun. He laughs with all the boys, and he takes everything in stride."

  • Choo plays with a lot of poise and confidence.

  • Before the 2004 season, Baseball America rated Choo as the 5th-best prospect in the Mariners organization.

    Before 2006 spring training, the magazine had Shin-Soo as #7 in the Seattle farm system.

  • For the 2004 season, Shin-Soo ranked in the top four in six of the Texas League's offensive categories.

  •  
  • After the 2004 season, Choo did well in the Arizona Fall League with a .301 batting average, three home runs, and 15 RBIs in 23 games.

  • As of 2010, Shin-Soo still owed the South Korean military two years of service. He has a chance to gain an exemption if he plays in the Olympics or Asian games, depending on how South Korea performs. The World Baseball Classic does not count toward his exemption.

  • "I worry about my military obligation, but it's secondary on my mind," said Choo.

    But then, when Choo helped South Korea defeat Taiwan on November 19, 2010, capturing the gold in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Shin-Soo became exempt from military conscription.

    "I am kind of dreaming right now," Choo told Korean reporters after the victory. "Honestly, if [I told you] I didn't think about the military service, I might be a liar. But it wasn't the primary reason to join the national team. I love baseball, and whenever I put the national flag on the shoulder, I am really proud of my nation and myself. That's why I want to play for this team. I am representing all the Korean baseball players."

     
  • Choo has a home in Jnamgu Pusan, South Korea. In 2008, he purchased a home seven miles from the Indians' new spring training site in Goodyear, Arizona. In the off-season before 2009 spring training, he trained there four days a week.

  • July 3, 2009: Shin-Soo became the first Indian since Al Rosen in 1952 to have at least four runs and seven RBI, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Choo went 4-for-5 with two homers, four runs and seven RBI in a 15-3 victory over the A's. Rosen scored four and drove in seven April 29, 1952.

  • Choo is the third Major Leaguer since 1945 to notch four runs, seven RBI, and one steal in the same game, joining Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell (May 1968 at the Cubs) and Boston's Ted Williams (June 1949 vs. St. Louis).

  • On September 5, 2009, Shin-Soo's wife, Woon Mi, gave birth to their second child, Aiden.

    And on August 22, 2011, Won Mi Ha gave birth to their third child, a daughter named Abigail.

  •  
  • Choo is the top story in the sports pages and sports websites in Korea every day the Indians play. And you can't walk down the street without seeing someone in an Indians hat or shirt. The Tribe is #1 in Korea.

  • May 2, 2011: Choo was arrested in the Cleveland suburb of Sheffield Lake on charges of driving under the influence. He was in uniform and in the lineup the next day, but wanted to make sure he issued an apology before taking the field for the Tribe.

  • "I want to apologize to my family and my teammates," Choo told reporters, "and to the fans and to the Indians organization. I regret that this happened."

    According to the official police report, a breathalyzer test performed at the Sheffield Lake station determined Choo's blood-alcohol level to be .201—more than double Ohio's legal limit of .08. Prior to being transported to the police station, Choo also failed a handful of field sobriety tests.

     
    Choo first came into contact with police at 2:25 a.m., according to the report. Initially, the outfielder asked an officer to help him find his way to Avon Lake, Ohio. The officer did not observe the smell of alcohol on Choo at first and agreed to follow the outfielder to make sure he reached his home.

    At one point, Choo pulled off to the side of a road and turned on his hazard lights. He then indicated to an officer that the GPS in his white 2007 Cadillac SUV was not working properly. The officer again informed Choo that he would follow him home, according to the report.

    While the officer followed in a cruiser, he witnessed Choo driving over the road's double yellow line on two separate occasions. He also veered into a bike lane on the opposite side of the road. Choo was then pulled over a second time, at which point the officer noticed his eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of alcohol.

    Choo was then asked to perform a number of sobriety tests. When he struggled to follow the officer's instructions, Choo was arrested and taken to the Sheffield Lake station. When he was later led out of the station, Choo smashed his personal camera in the parking lot, according to the report.

     
    Officers also noticed minor damage to the front bumper and driver's side door on Choo's vehicle. Choo was released without bond and driven home.

  • Shin-Soo was wondering how many at-bats he'd be getting in a Cactus League game during 2013 spring training, so he asked Reds bench coach Chris Speier. When Dusty Baker found out Choo had gone to Speier and not him, he asked Choo why.

    "In Korea," said Choo, a native of Pusan, South Korea, "[the players] don't talk to the manager. The manager is like a god."

  • Baker laughed.  "Man," Baker replied, "you ain't in Korea now."

  • Choo is pleasant, thoughtful and polite, but his mere presence at the top of Reds' lineup is the club's not-so-subtle way of sending a warning to all foes.  In Choo, the Reds got their leadoff hitter, the catalyst and the producer they so desperately craved and didn't have last season.

    "He's going to be a huge asset to the team, both on the field and in the clubhouse," right fielder Jay Bruce said.

  • A native of Pusan, South Korea, Choo grew up not letting anyone ever outprepare him—even teammates. His work ethic is one of going full speed—at all times.

  •  
    "I don't do it for anybody. I do it for me. That's my routine," Choo said. "I feel like if I'm not doing it, I won't stay in the big leagues anymore. That's what I did in the minor leagues or Korea. I keep thinking, 'How can I do better?' If you do 10 swings, I think, 'How can I do better?' So I might go 11 or 12 swings. Maybe that's Korean culture, to always do more than other players."

    Reds manager Dusty Baker noted, "This guy pushes the envelope big time. I was wondering about that before we got him. Usually you're worried about a guy being lazy and not a worker. This guy is the opposite."

  • Fluent in English, Choo stopped using an interpreter a couple of years into his big league career. It's helped eliminate miscommunication and soften cultural differences. 

    "Sometimes when you have a translator, I will say 100 percent to him, but the translator might not say 100 percent," Choo said. "I knew it would take a lot of time to do it, but I wanted to learn. I want to spend time with my teammates. That's a big part of baseball. Teammates are very important. That's why I didn't play in the WBC. My teammates are like my family.

    "Now I'm really comfortable in the clubhouse. Everyone talks to me and jokes around. Now we're ready to start the season. I can't wait."  Choo's efforts have been noticed, and it earned him clubhouse respect from all corners almost immediately.

  •  
    "He's really come over here and taken well to everyone. He's a good guy," fellow outfielder Jay Bruce said.

  • May 29, 2013:  Aside from the obvious—his ability with his bat and arm—Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't know much about the man he now refers to as "Mr. Choo."  One attribute in particular did catch Baker's attention when the skipper saw Shin-Soo Choo:  "The clothes he had on, the hairstyle he had . . . I said, 'This guy is pretty cool,' " Baker said.

    Baker can recall each of the seven home runs Choo slugged against Cincinnati from 2008-12. Still, though Choo's talents had shone through against Baker's bunch—the manager opted not to establish any expectations for the 30-year-old upon his arrival to the Queen City.

  • Many questioned how Choo would assimilate into the framework of the Reds' lineup and defense. Throughout his seven-year stint in Cleveland, Choo constantly encountered hurdles that handicapped his on-field performance. He has been presented a fresh batch of obstacles in 2012, but the veteran has finally discovered how to free his mind from the shackles of distractions.

    Rarely has Choo been at such peace. In 2010, he directed his native South Korea to the gold medal in baseball at the Asian Games, a feat necessary to make him exempt from having to fulfill a military obligation, which could have forced him to miss time on the field with the Indians. A  DUI, a broken thumb and a strained oblique muscle foiled much of his '11 campaign. His aversion to being hit by pitches—one he has since shaken—and his uncertain future admittedly hindered his focus for parts of the '12 season.

     
    "My mindset has changed this year," Choo said. "I don't think about the big picture. I don't think about the whole season or entire games. I just think about every pitch. Not even every at-bat. One pitch at a time."

    The mentality has helped Choo—a notoriously slow starter—to a stellar first two months. What has stood out most to Baker, though, is Choo's presence in the clubhouse. "We believed he was a good player," Baker said, "but what we didn't know was that he was a better teammate than he is a player."  Choo's former mates in Cleveland know that first-hand.

    "He played hard, he wanted to win and you could never dock him for his effort out there," said Tribe reliever Joe Smith. "That's all you can ask for."

    And the man's hair, at which Baker, a man clinging to a few final gray curls of his own, marveled?  "No one can beat that flow," Smith said, "especially when it was long."

    Choo's wife and their three children—his sons were 8 and 3, and his daughter was 21 months old in the summer of 2012—moved to the Cincinnati area, where the eldest child attended summer camp.  (Meisel - mlb.com-5/29/13)

  • Aug. 7, 2013: Shin-Soo Choo was honored as the recipient of the Reds' Heart & Hustle Award.

    Given out by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, the award is presented to one player on each team who "demonstrates a passion for the game and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game." Bench coach Chris Speier, a former three-time All-Star, presented Choo with the award.

  •  
    Along with his play and demeanor on the field, Choo was honored for his work through his foundation (Choo Foundation), which helps disadvantaged people in his native South Korea.

  • 2014 Spring Training: Choo introduced a new hitting tool to his new teammates: the iTrac. It’s supposed to improve hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition. 


    TRANSACTIONS

  • August 2000: The Mariners signed Shin-Soo. The Mariners outbid several teams to sign Choo to a contract believed to be $1.34 million. Jae Lee and Jim Colborn were the scouts who signed him.

  • July 26, 2006: The Indians sent OF Ben Broussard to the Mariners, acquiring Choo and P Shawn Nottingham.

  • January 17, 2012: Choo and the Indians agreed to a one-year, $4.9 million contract, avoiding salary arbitration.

  • December 11, 2012: The Indians traded Choo to the Reds, acquiring P Trevor Bauer from the D-Backs in a three-team trade. CF Drew Stubbs went from Cincinnati to Cleveland, as did Trevor Bauer. The Tribe also received Bauer and RHP Matt Albers and RHP Bryan Shaw from the Diamondbacks.

    Cleveland shipped Choo, INF Jason Donald, and about $3.5 million to the Reds, whild sending LHP reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona. The D-Backs also received SS Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.

  • February 11, 2013: Choo and the Reds agreed on a one-year contract for $7.375 million.

  •  
  • November 4, 2013: The Red tendered a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Choo.  But on November 11, 2013, Shin-Soo turned it down, becoming a free agent.

  • December 21, 2013: Choo and the Texas Rangers agreed to a 7-year, $130 million contract.
  •  
     
    BATTING:

    • Choo is the best five-tool baseball star to come out of Korea. He is a fine hitter for both average and decent power, smacking line drives with a solid batting strike.

      He hits home runs, and his power is to all fields. He enjoys hitting it out to the opposite field, in fact. His homers are from foul pole to foul pole.

      The "5-tool player" tag gets thrown around a lot. A ballplayer with the ability to hit for average and power, who possesses speed, an excellent glove, and a howitzer of an arm is in reality as rare as the pitcher who can throw triple-digit fastballs with precision. "A-Rod used to be one," says Indians closer Chris Perez. "Cargo [Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez] is one. There may only be three or four real five-tool guys in the game, and Choo is definitely one."
  • In 2013, Shin-Soo filled a big void the Cincinnati Reds had for a leadoff hitter.

  • Choo's swing generates incredible backspin that provides unexpected power from a guy with such a compact build.

  • Pitchers can sometimes get him out by pounding him inside. But he has learned to stay inside the ball well.

  • Choo has learned to be more aggressive with pitches in the strike zone. He can be too passive at the plate. But he has a good eye.

  • He has fine bat speed and excellent leverage, but Choo probably won't hit more than 20 or 25 home runs per year, at the most. Some say his inside-out swing will only allow him to hit 10-15 homers per season. When he tries to hit for more power, he gets too pull-conscious.

  •  
  • He generates some serious torque. With the torque he generates through his hips, he kind of reminds me of Ken Griffey. He’s a natural hitter. The best thing you can do with a hitter like him is leave him alone and let him hit–don’t try to mess with his swing.

  • In 2009, Shin-Soo became the first Asian player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season in MLB history.

  • Choo and Ian Kinsler of the Ranmgers were the only players in the Major Leagues in 2012 with at least 40 doubles, 15 home runs and 20 steals. And Shin-Soo joined Roberto Alomar and Grady Sizemore as the only players in Indians history to reach each of those statistical marks in a single season.

  • Choo is not afraid of those inside pitches he sees so often. And on September 9, 2013, he set the Reds franchise record for being hit by pitches, formerly owned by Jason LaRue (24 times in 2004), when Cubs lefty Travis Wood hit Shin-Soo. It was Choo's 25th hit-by-pitch.

  • As of the start of the 2014 season, Choo's career Major League stats were: .288 batting average, 104 home runs with 427 RBI's in 3,122 at-bats.
  •  
     
    FIELDING:

    • Shin-Soo has a truly great arm, and since he also has good range, he is a fine center fielder. But, all things considered, he is probably best in right field with that cannon for an arm.
    • Choo displays good instincts in the outfield, but he could stand a little more improvement in his jumps and routes to the ball.

      In 2009, he had trouble with fly balls in the sun during day games. So in 2010 spring training, Grady Sizemore had Choo use flip down sunglasses. They made the sun look a lot smaller, helping a whole lot.

    • As a pitcher, he threw 95 mph. So his arm is a good one. But his accuracy needs to get better.

    • The one still relatively unknown commodity about Choo, as of the start of the 2013 season, is his skill as a center fielder. He was the primary right fielder in Cleveland. In Cincinnati, where Jay Bruce mans right field, Choo will move to the middle of the field, where he's played only 10 times over his career. His lack of familiarity for the spot is far less a concern to the Reds compared to the upside of his potential leadoff prowess.

    Admittedly uncomfortable in the early days of 2013 spring camp, Choo put as much effort in improving defensively as he he did with his hitting. He worked regularly with coaches Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis.

    Bruce, who was at one point willing to move over to center field to accommodate Choo, believes his new teammate will be successful at his new spot.

    "Obviously, there is only one Drew Stubbs in my opinion as far as the range he possesses," Bruce said. "But Choo has worked extremely hard and takes a lot of pride in what he does. He's going to be just fine out there. There won't be any question as to whether or not he can play the position."

     
     
    RUNNING:

    • Choo is very speedy. He runs well and exhibits the instincts to steal bases.

      He steals about 20 bases a year.
     
    CAREER INJURY REPORT:

    • July 2003: Shin-Soo broke a bone in his right foot while sliding into second base. He missed three weeks of action.
    • June–August 2007: Choo went on the D.L. the second week of June. with a strained elbow ligament. He returned to action the second week of August.

      But on September 25, 2007, Shin-Soo underwent Tommy John surgery by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles. Choo's ligament damage is probably traced to his days as a pitcher for the junior national team in South Korea. He recalled once pitching 44 innings during a stretch of five games in seven days.

    • March 22–May 30, 2008: Shin-Soo began the season on the D.L. while still recovering from the Tommy John surgery.

  • July 3-23, 2010: Choo severely sprained his thumb diving for Jack Cust's one-out double in the eighth inning of a 3-0 loss to the Athletics. He underwent an MRI exam on the thumb and went on the D.L.

  • February 22, 2011: Shin-Soo was feeling discomfort in his elbow early in spring training. An MRI showed only mild elbow soreness with no problem inside the joint, and he was back in action at the end of the first week in March.

  • June 24-August 12, 2011: Choo had his left thumb broken by a pitch from San Francisco lefthander Jonathan Sanchez, and went on the D.L. He had surgery on June 28 by renowned hand specialist and surgeon Thomas Graham at the Cleveland Clinic. Graham had to open the thumb, reduce and internally fixate a displaced fracture.

  •  
    "It means that he had to go inside and put the bone back in place," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said before Cleveland played the D-backs at Chase Field in the second game of a three-game series. "By fixation, it means that he usually holds it in place with a plate or some screws. I'm not sure what process he used in this case."

    Shin-Soo virtually had the lower bone beyond the thumb's joint shattered.

  • August 29-September 14, 2011: Shin-Soo tweaked his strained left oblique muscle making a checked swing during his second at-bat in the third inning of an 8-7 win against the Royals and went on the D.L. the next day.

    September 15, 2011: Choo reinjured his left rib cage (oblique) in the second inning of his first game back, going on the D.L. and ending his season.

  • March 15, 2013: Shin-Soo was sidelined with back spasms that flared up in the morning following the game the day before.

  •  
     
     
    Last Updated 4/18/2014. All contents © 2000 by Player Profiles. All rights reserved.