SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, under contract with the Chicago Cubs, made a scoreless debut for the big league club's Triple-A affiliate on Monday, Korean time, taking another step closer to Major League Baseball (MLB).
Lim, who was called up to the Iowa Cubs in the Pacific Coast League on Saturday, threw two shutout innings as the team's third and the last pitcher against the Oklahoma City RedHawks, giving up two hits and striking out two batters. The RedHawks prevailed 4-3.
The 37-year-old right-hander made one appearance for the Tennessee Smokies in Double-A, one notch below Triple-A in the U.S. minor leagues, last week, before moving to Iowa. Triple-A is the highest-level in minor-league ball.
Lim, who signed with the Chicago Cubs last December, has gone from the Rookie League, the lowest level in the minors, to Triple-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 11 games in the minors, Lim has given up three earned runs in 13 innings on 10 hits and three walks for a 2.08 ERA. He has struck out 14 batters.
Lim has been recovering from his second major elbow reconstructive operation, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, since last July. His initial goal had been to return to action by mid-July.
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 as early as 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.