Spring Training is a beloved tradition, then surely there are smaller, more distinctly defined mini traditions. The perennial positional question marks a fan sees on their team, be it in the bullpen, starting rotation or INF/OF is surely one of the more fun, or sometimes hideous, mini traditions. By "question mark", it's guys that could make a difference on this team, soon or later in the year, and/or surprise everyone with a roster spot. These days, as i'm sure you've read/heard, there are plenty of question marks in pretty much every category of personnel. Oh.
It's high time we talked about Ji-Man Choi. You know, the guy that Billy Eppler picked up a few months back via Rule 5 draft, and who may not only be fighting for a backup 1B role, but could also fit into the Angels' LF plans. That's if all goes well in Spring Training, but for now, Choi AKA Ji-Unit, is quite possibly my favorite overall Spring Training question mark. He'll have to work on lowering the strikeouts, and cultivate some MLB-level plate patience and mechanics, but the path for him to get playing time is there for the taking.
So what's the deal with Ji-Man Choi? Well, he was originally with the Mariners organization going back to 2010, where he put up decent numbers in their Arizona League affiliate as well as the California League, eventually working his way up the ladder, playing in a futures game along the way, and found himself on the Mariners' 40 man roster in 2013. Life seemed good for Choi, and his minor league career was filled with some nifty, left-handed hitting numbers as well as decent play at the 1B bag. In 2014, however, he hit the skids a bit when he tested positive for PEDs and garnered himself a 50 game suspension.
Ji-Man served the suspension, but things didn't immediately get brighter in his baseball life, as he injured his tibula early on in the Mariners' 2015 Spring Training, putting him back on the baseball shelf. Cut to last December, and Billy Eppler saw something he liked in the Korean slugger. Choi was picked up by the Angels thanks to the Rule 5 draft, and was all set to go to his first camp as a Halo.
Now, C.J. Cron is who most people think of when discussing backups for the aging Albert Pujols. But Ji-Man Choi, if he could stick, became a fun "what if?" to think about, considering Cron hasn't really shined all that bright in his time in the sun. But wait! We now know that the Angels would like to see what he could do in left, and we may see him get some reps out there and breathe down the necks of guys like Rafael Ortega or Todd Cunningham.
The Angels could use a guy like Choi, who has shown a propensity for good OBP and Slugging % in some minor league stints, who can bat as a lefty, and who also recently learned to bat as a righty. All he has to do is have a great Spring, and after two games, he's on track to raise eyebrows.
But let's get real: one of the reasons he's so great to rally behind is that, as our illustrious contributor Jeff Joiner so astutely pointed out, we can have an entire outfield section devoted to Choi, aptly named The Ji-Spot. If this comes to fruition, I can die a happy man knowing after all those years, the Ji-Spot was found. And in Angels Stadium, of all places. THAT is why he might be the best dang question mark in an ocean of Angels unknowns.