Choo was selected as the Most Valuable Player and Best Pitcher of the 2000 World Junior Baseball Championship as South Korea won the event. Choo signed a $1.35M contract with the Mariners after the championship and converted to the outfield. At Busan High School, Choo batted fourth and could throw in the mid-90s as a pitcher. Choo is a "five-tool player" – possessing the talent to hit for power and average, being an above average defender, and having above average arm strength and above average speed. He is known for consistently throwing out runners on base.
2005-2006: Seattle MarinersEdit
Choo made his Major League Baseball debut with the Seattle Mariners on April 21, Template:Mlby, but spent most of the 2005 season and the first half of the Template:By season in the minor leagues with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with minor leaguer Shawn Nottingham on July 26, 2006, for first baseman Ben Broussard.
2006: Cleveland IndiansEdit
Two days after being traded, Choo hit a solo home run against his former club in a 1-0 Indians victory. In 45 games with the Indians, he batted .295 (43 for 146) with 3 home runs and 22 RBI.
He spent the first few weeks of the Template:By regular season with the Buffalo Bisons, a AAA team in the International League affiliated with the Indians, before being called up on April 23, 2007 to take the place of the injured third baseman Andy Marté. He was optioned back to Buffalo on May 3. Choo missed several months of the 2007 season due to injury, and in September 2007 underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
In the 2008 season, Choo was called up on May 31 and spent the rest of the season with the Indians. He finished the season (after 317 at-bats) with a .309 batting average, 98 hits, 14 home runs, and 66 RBI. His 98 hits and 66 RBI are also a new record for most hits and RBI by a Korean-born player in the MLB. Thanks to a hot September where he put up a .400 batting average, 34 hits, 5 home runs, and 24 RBI, Choo was awarded the American League Player of the Month for September Award presented by Sharp.
In February 2009, he signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. During that season, he broke his own records for home runs, RBIs, stolen bases and hits. On October 3, 2009, Choo hit his 20th homer off of Paul Byrd of the Boston Red Sox, thus joining the 20-20 club. He is the first Asian to accomplish this feat. He was also the only player in the AL to have a .300 average, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases at the same time. He finished the season with 20 home runs, 21 steals, 86 RBI, and a .300 batting average.
On February 26, 2010, Choo hired baseball super-agent, Scott Boras. Boras is known for his high profile MLB clientele and for his ability to broker huge contracts for his clients. Choo will be eligible for arbitration after the 2010 season and will become a free agent after the 2013 season. Choo hit three home runs in an away game against the Kansas City Royals on September 17, 2010. He first hit a 2-run homer 420ft to right in the top of the 4th inning. In his next at bat, in the top of the 6th, he hit a towering grand slam to deep center. In the top of the 8th Choo hit a 405ft solo homer over the right field wall. Choo finished the game a 3-run homer away from the elusive "home run cycle". On September 19, 2010, Choo again reached the 20-20 club of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the second straight year. He also led the AL right fielders in assists with 14.
World Baseball ClassicEdit
Choo was on the 2009 World Baseball Classic Korean roster. Cleveland allowed Choo to play under the condition that he play only one game or less as an outfielder in the first round, and only in two non-consecutive games of the second round. Cleveland lifted this restriction from the semifinals on, and Choo started as an outfielder in the semifinal match against Venezuela. He helped Korea win 10-2 against Venezuela with a three-run home run against Carlos Silva in the first inning. He also contributed a solo home run in the fifth inning at the finals against Hisashi Iwakuma of Japan, where Korea lost to Japan 3-5.
He and his wife currently reside just outside Phoenix, Arizona.
South Korea has mandatory military service for men and Choo is required to serve about 2 years before he turns 30 in 2012. The government gives de-facto waivers to athletes by requiring them only to serve 4-week long basic military training under limited circumstances, which Choo missed several times. In addition, the South Korean government does not allow an individual to give up their citizenship to avoid military service.
In 2006, he was not selected for the South Korean team for 2006 World Baseball Classic in which South Korea placed third. The government unexpectedly decided to give military waivers to the members but it was one-time-only. The decision was reaffirmed after the 2009 World Baseball Classic in which Choo competed and South Korea took second place.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics he was certain to make it to the national team but could not as the Commissioner's office did not allow players on the 25-man roster to play in the Olympics. The team also was aware of his special circumstances but kept him on the 25-man roster as he was out of minor league options. Olympic medalists are given military waivers in South Korea and he could have received a waiver had he competed as the South Korean team won a gold medal. Baseball has been voted out of the 2012 London Olympic games.
However, the problem was resolved when Choo and the South Korean team won the gold medal of the Asian Games on November 19, 2010. By law, this will exempt him from conscription by the Korean army.
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