In the KBO, the overseas talent steps up to the mound

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In the KBO, the overseas talent steps up to the mound

The 2010 season is expected to be the year of the pitchers, and six of the eight starting on opening day come from overseas. If that’s an indication of things to come, the outcome of the 2010 season can very well rest on the shoulders of the imported talent.

With each Korea Baseball Organization team allowed up to two overseas players, 14 of the total 16 import players this year are pitchers. That’s four more than last season, and it’s the highest number of overseas pitchers in league history.

And the quality of talent is considered the best ever.

Several pitchers make their return to the KBO this season. The Tigers re-signed Aquilino Lopez while SK Wyverns decided to bring back both Gary Glover and Ken Kadokura. The Samsung Lions will also have Brandon Knight and Francisco Curceda return to their starting rotation.

Aside from the players who have already proved their worth, several new pitchers will make their KBO debut this season. Ryan Sadowski of the Lotte Giants, Jose Capellan and Julio DePaula of the Hanwha Eagles, Kelvin Jiminez and Les Walrond of the Doosan Bears and Edgar Gonzalez of the LG Twins are all pitchers with Major League experience.

The Kia Tigers’ Ricardo Rodriguez was released due to persistent elbow pain, but the Tigers are expected to replace him with another pitcher from overseas.

Sadowski and Gonzalez both spent time in the Major Leagues last season and Capellan made 99 appearances throughout his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies. The three are considered top-notch talent in the vein of Kia’s Lopez.

Shinya Okamoto of the LG Twins and the Nexen Heroes’ Adrian Burnside are proven Nippon Professional Baseball talent. Okamoto is the group’s only relief pitcher and Burnside and Walrond are the only southpaws.

Judging by the preseason games, Sadowski could have the most impressive season of the bunch. Appearing in three games, he picked up two wins and pitched in 11 and two-thirds innings, giving up nine hits and two earned runs for an ERA of 1.54. Aside from his go-to fastball and sinker, Sadowski possesses dangerous change-ups and curveballs.

Samsung’s Knight and Cruceda each pitched 16 innings and gave up a respectable five runs. Kia’s Lopez and Hanwha’s DePaula each earned an ERA of 3.00 in the preseason.


By Kim Dong-hwan [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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