Former Cardinals and Marlins first baseman/outfielder Xavier Scruggs will return for a second season with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, the team announced Wednesday (h/t: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter). Scruggs will earn a $1.3MM salary for the upcoming 2018 campaign, per the announcement.
Scruggs, 30, never carved out much of a role for himself in the big leagues, hitting just .227/.292/.303 in limited opportunities between the Cardinals and Marlins organizations — the only two MLB clubs with which he was ever affiliated. In all, Scruggs received just 130 plate appearances in the Major Leagues despite a strong body of work in Triple-A, where he slashed .271/.371/.485 in 1369 trips to the plate. Scruggs’ final season in Triple-A saw him turn in a huge .290/.408/.565 slash with 21 homers in 93 games — a performance that generated interest overseas.
The Dinos invested $1MM in Scruggs last offseason and were rewarded enormously for that show of faith. In 518 plate appearances, Scruggs posted a .300/.402/.595 batting line while drilling 35 homers and 24 doubles. The KBO, of course, is an extremely hitter-friendly environment, but Scruggs’ huge output still placed him among the league’s most productive hitters; Scruggs tied for third in the KBO in homers and ranked seventh in OPS, per Kurtz.
Scruggs is hardly the first hitter to take a strong Triple-A track record but limited MLB success and find stardom overseas. The man he effectively replaced on the Dinos’ roster, Eric Thames, is perhaps the poster boy for parlaying a strong run in the KBO or Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball into a big league opportunity. It’s not yet clear if or when Scruggs hopes to return to pro ball in North America, but if he can further improve his discipline and continue to post gaudy numbers in the KBO, it’s possible he could follow in Thames’ footsteps and draw free-agent interest from MLB clubs in future offseasons.