The Boston Red Sox are always on the prowl for pitching and the international market offers opportunity. Is there another Ryan Brasier in Korea?
If baseball scouts turn over enough rocks an occasional gem does surface. The Boston Red Sox have two success stories in combing the world for baseball riches and that is Ryan Brasier and Hector Velazquez. Braiser made a name for himself in Japan and was repatriated to the Red Sox where he has enjoyed success. An article in which I previously discussed Japanese options of foreign players. Is there any talent available in the hitter-happy KBO (Korean Baseball Organization)?
Korea has already supplied one player to Boston in much-maligned right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim, but Kim also has been an All-Star. There is a sprinkling of Korean players in the majors with the most noted and contractually wealthy being Shin-Soo Choo, but what about that cache of foreign-born players who may offer a potential Brasier for the Red Sox?
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The list is extensive and I have concentrated on need and with the Red Sox need is pitching, especially the bullpen. With Korea, one must take any pitching statistics with concern since the ballparks are notoriously hitter-friendly. The league batting average is .286 and league Earned Run Average is 5.17.
The first name that pops up on pitching statistics is a 31-year-old right-hander Josh Lindblom, who has five years of MLB experience (5-8, 4.10). He left the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 to join the Lotte Giants. After two seasons, Lindblom returned to the Pirates and after a brief four games returned to Korea Doosan Bears and a one-year deal ($1.45M).
This season, the veteran has 15 wins and a 2.88 ERA for the Bears. Lindblom throws four basic pitches – a fastball in the low 90’s, slider, curve, and change, according to Fangraphs. In the States, Lindblom posted a career 3.7 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9. Will he get a look? Based on his KBO stats, Lindblom could draw interest.
Another right-hander is 28-year-old Tyler Wilson, who pitched three seasons for Baltimore (8-10, 5.02). Wilson departed MLB when he became a free agent at the end of the 2017 season and signed with the LG Twins of the KBO and an $800,000 salary.
With Baltimore, Wilson was a four-pitch pitcher with a low 90’s fastball, sinker, slider, change and a 46 GB% in 145.1 innings. Wilson’s 2.4 BB/9 and 4.8 K/9 screams out that he pitches to contact and a 10.6 H/9 demonstrates that. Wilson is currently 9-4 with a 3.09 ERA.
Henry Sosa is a 33-year-old Dominican right-hander who last pitched with Houston (3-5, 5.23) in 2011. Expect Sosa to stay put as he now has veteran status in KBO as a long-time starter with a $1, 200,000 salary. This season Sosa is doing duty with the LG Twins and has the third best 3.52 ERA in the KBO.
Seth Frankoff appeared in just one game for the 2017 Chicago Cubs before moving onto the Doosan Bears and $700,000. Frankoff has an 18-3 record for the Bears and that is the top win total in the KBO. In 149.1 innings Frankoff has a respectable 3.74 ERA with 134 strikeouts. Frankoff could get some American inquiries based on his KBO performance.
Another cup of coffee MLB pitcher is right-hander Jake Brigham who pitched in 12 games for the 2015 Braves (0-1, 8.64). Brigham pitched in Japan in 2016 (0-3, 5.24) before moving on or down to Korea in 2017 and joining the rotation of the Nexen Bears. This season Brigham is 10-7 in 28 starts and a 3.82 ERA.
David Hale is a 31-year-old right-hander who was granted free agency from the New York Yankees in early July and signed to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles. Hale is one of the more experienced at the major league level players in the KBO. Hale left with a 10-10 career record and 4.49 ERA in 192.1 innings.
Hale – a Princeton graduate – relied primarily on a fastball, slider, and change while in the majors with his fastball ticking in the low 90s. Hale also had a career 3.1 BB/9, 51.2 GB%, and 6.0 K/9 as a reliever and spot starter. This season Hale is 3-2 in nine starts tossing 50 innings. With his MLB pedigree Hale and just $500,000 KBO salary he may wish to explore return options. A possible Triple-A stockpile player.
Stats through 9/23