SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, under contract with the Chicago Cubs, on Friday made a scoreless debut for the big league club's Double-A affiliate.
In his first appearance for the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League, Lim gave up a hit and struck out two batters in one scoreless inning in relief against the Huntsville Stars, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lim, 37, was added to the Smokies rotation on Thursday. The Southern League is one of three circuits in Double-A, the second-highest level of the minor leagues in the United States. He signed with Chicago last December.
The right-hander took the mound to start the eighth inning as the Smokies' fifth pitcher of the game. Hector Gomez grounded out to short to lead off, and Nick Shaw followed up with an infield single to second base.
Lim then struck out the next two batters, Chadwin Stang and Shea Vucinich, to end the inning. The Smokies won the game, 10-5.
Lim has gone from the Rookie League, the lowest level in the minor league ball, to Double-A in just a month.
Rehabbing from a major elbow surgery from last year, Lim made his first Rookie League appearance on June 24 and went to the Daytona Cubs in Advanced Class A on July 13.
In 10 games in the minors, Lim has given up three runs in 11 innings on eight hits and three walks, and has struck out 12. His ERA is 2.45 and opponents are hitting .211 against him.
Lim has been recovering from his second major elbow reconstructive operation, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, since last July. His initial goal was to return to action by mid-July, but he beat that by about a month in the U.S.
Lim began his professional career in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in 1995 and spent 13 seasons with two different teams. He then pitched the next five seasons for the Yakult Swallows in the Central League of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), before joining the Cubs.
Lim collected 128 saves in Japan, the most by a South Korean pitcher in NPB history, and struck out 231 batters in 233 innings. In the KBO, Lim led the league in saves in three different seasons, while bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen. He went 104-66 with 168 saves in 534 games with a 3.25 ERA in South Korea.
If Lim reaches the majors this year, he will be the third South Korean player in the big leagues in 2013, joining outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. All three players will be in the National League.
Lim could be in the big leagues by Sept. 1, when MLB clubs' rosters expand from 25 players to 40.
The Cubs were reportedly interested in Lim for his unique, sidearm delivery and his ability to reach well over 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) with his fastball.