For a time, local baseball standout Michael Choice was on top of the world. This time he’s headed to the other side of it.
A high school phenom at Mansfield Timberview who became a college superstar at UT Arlington and even played for the United States national team, Choice’s future seemed golden when he was chosen 10th overall in the 2010 major league baseball draft.
But after just 300 plate appearances in three major league seasons — the last two with the Texas Rangers — Choice is shipping out to Seoul, South Korea, in search of a new start. He will play for the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball League after signing a contract worth $200,000 for the remainder of the 2017 season, according to the team’s website.
“It’s pretty simple,” Choice told Patrick Ochs of the Biloxi Sun Herald. “If somebody offers you a job to make more money, you’re not going to think too much about it before you take the job. That’s what it came down to.”
The announcement came Friday night from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Korean league rules allow three foreign players per team and one of them must be a position player. Choice, who can handle all three outfield positions, will replace Danny Dorn as one of the Heroes’ three imports, according to the Korea Herald. Dorn hit .295 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs last season for Nexen but was struggling with a .140 average this season.
Nexen sits sixth in the standings of the 10-team KBO with just over 50 games remaining in the current season.
The 27-year-old Choice began 2017 in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization before being released after going 1-for-26 in 10 games with the Triple A Norfolk (Va.) Tides. He signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in May and seemed to have regained his eye at the plate, batting .272 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 48 games with the Double A Biloxi (Miss.) Shuckers.
“I definitely thank the Brewers organization for bringing me in so fast and giving me the opportunity,” Choice told the Sun Herald. “Without being able to get into Biloxi as fast as I did from Norfolk and get the ball rolling, I don’t know if I would have gotten the same opportunity. I definitely give props to them because they put me in a situation to still go out and showcase what I can do.”
Choice left UTA with a .392 career batting average and a school-record 34 home runs. He played only nine games for the Athletics in 2013 before being traded to the Rangers for Craig Gentry after the season.
He made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster in 2014 and batted .182 in 86 games before a hamstring injury in September ended his season. He spent the following year at Triple A Round Rock, except for one game with the Rangers, before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in August.