Left-hander Tomasz Panoni, 29, who wore a KIA jersey last year as a substitute foreign player, received some disconcerting news after the season ended. Personally, he thought he would be able to sign a new contract, but instead, he was told that he would not be re-signed.
It wasn’t unreasonable for Panoni to expect to be re-signed. Since joining the team, he has pitched 82⅔ innings in 14 games, going 3-4 with a 2.72 ERA. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t far-fetched to label it “solid. The numbers speak for themselves.
His velocity wasn’t the fastest, but his walks per nine innings were low at 2.61, and he averaged six innings per game. We’re talking results, not velocity. Considering the salary cap for new foreign players ($1 million) and the lack of pitchers in the major leagues, there was no 100% guarantee that they’d get him back.
But Kia was determined to find someone with stronger stuff than Panoni and Sean Nolin, who finished last year together. It was a gamble to go higher, and with the arrival of Shawn Anderson and Adonis Medina, Panoni left Korea in the dust. He was not offered a guaranteed major league contract, so he signed a minor league deal and went through a difficult time working his way up from Triple-A.
But that wasn’t the end of his relationship with KIA. Concerned about the unreliable pitching of Medina and Anderson, the organization reached out to Pannoni again and offered him a contract, which he accepted. Since rejoining the organization, Pannoni has continued to perform well, raising the possibility that he could be re-signed this year.
Since joining the team, Pannoni has pitched 22⅓ innings in four games, going 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA. On Friday against the Gwangju Hanwha, he pitched 6⅔ innings of 10-strikeout, three-run ball to bail out a depleted bullpen. While the first two games were about re-acclimatizing to the Korean stage and getting his form up, he has come out strong in the next two games with quality starts (six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs).
His four-seam fastball average velocity hasn’t changed much from last year. However, the tracking data shows slightly better vertical and horizontal movement. Kia manager Kim Jong-kook also commented on Pannoni, saying, “I think he’s more adaptable. In the second half of the season, there were parts of the rotation where he struggled, but he threw six innings steadily.” “What’s better than last year is that his cutter comes in with more power. It’s almost the same trajectory as my fastball. I feel like I have better movement with my fastball and cutter.”
Veteran catcher Kim Tae-gun, who received Pannoni’s ball on May 5, also praised it for having more power than it looks. The ball averages around 140 kilometers per hour (mph), so it’s not physically fast, but there’s more to it than that.
“Compared to the fastball, there’s something a little more solid. There’s a cutter here,” he said. It’s not an absolutely fast ball, so you can see it, but it has good movement, so it induces a lot of bunts and false swings.
Sanchez doesn’t have the fastest velocity, but he does have a lot of power. He has a variety of pitches, including sliders, cutters, sweepers, and changeups. However, he has struggled a bit in games after 2S, and his pitches are getting hit as opposing hitters read his strengths.메이저놀이터
KIA has the most games left to play among the 10 teams. They need their starting rotation to hold steady in order to mount a late-season comeback. This is especially true considering Lee Yi-ri is out for the Asian Games. Both Panoni and Sanchez will need to carry the load, and if one of them is out, the bullpen will be stretched thin and the final stretch of the schedule will be daunting. Although it’s only five games in, Sanchez’s season ERA of 6.49 is no better than Medina’s (6.05).