While Opening Day in the MLB remains to be a question of when and where. However, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Opening Day was yesterday where all 10 teams were in action. For us fans that our desperate for any kind of live sport, this was something to watch.
In this league, their are several former Major League players on each of the 10 squads. There are two former Kansas City Royals currently on KBO rosters. These two pitchers spent a few years in Kansas City and also on some other big league teams in the United States.
KIA Tigers RHP Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks was drafted in the 9th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals out of California State University. He made his Major League Debut for the Royals in 2014 where he only played in 2 games with 1 start. In 2015, Brooks looked for a bounce back season to prove that he belongs on a Major League Roster. However Brooks struggled in another 2 outings with a 6.23 ERA and then ended 2015 with the Oakland Athletics, where he went 3-4, with a 6.41 ERA in 11 games.
Brooks then did not appear in the MLB until 2018 for a short time with Oakland and then later went on in 2019 to play for the Baltimore Orioles. In Baltimore, Aaron Brooks had a 4-5 record, with a 6.18 ERA in 14 appearances. During his total MLB career, Brooks has a 9-13 record, with a 6.49 ERA, 170.2 IP in 47 appearances.
His lack of options helped keep him in the bigs in 2019 but also reduced his appeal to affiliated clubs. In November, Brooks signed with the KIA Tigers in the KBO. The deal came with a $479K salary and a $200K signing bonus. This allows him to pick up some financial compensation and get a chance to compete at a high level and earn a salary that wouldnt be available to him in North America. Also, on the KIA Tigers along with Brooks are some former MLB players as well. Players like OF Preston Tucker and RHP Drew Gagnon.
Samsung Lions RHP Ben Lively
Ben Lively was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of the University of Central Florida. He did not make his Major League Debut until June of 2017 when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies. In his first career start, he pitched 7 innings, allowing only 4 hits and 1 earned run against the San Francisco Giants. In his first Major League season, Lively had a 4-7 record, with a 4.26 ERA.
However, in 2018, Lively went 0-2 in 5 games for the Phillies. He was claimed of waivers by the Kansas City Royals later that year. He appeared in 5 games for the Royals in 2018 with a 0-1 record and a 1.35 ERA. His time with the Royals was very short in 2019 where he only made 1 appearances and pitched 1 inning and allowing 3 runs. The Royals traded Lively to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations in late June of 2019. Lively never made an appearance with Arizona. In his Major League career, he has a 4.80 ERA with a 4-10 record.
He signed with the Samsung Lions of the KBO in August. In nine starts, Lively went 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA, with 58 strikeouts in 57 innings. The Lions said they liked what they saw out of him last year and decided to bring him back on a one-year deal.
KBO teams can sign up to three foreign players, with a maximum of two pitchers. Joining Lively on the Samsung Lions this season are a few familiar faces to the MLB. RHP Seunghwan Oh who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Colorado Rockies. IF Tyler Saladino who played for the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers. Also, RHP David Buchanan who played in 2 MLB seasons with the Phillies and has played three seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League of Japan.
These are the two former Kansas City Royals that are going to be in the Korean Baseball Organization. Games in the KBO will be on ESPN throughout the week. However, games not televised on ESPN, can be found on the KBO Twitch channel.
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