The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization have released right-hander Eric Jokisch and signed left-hander Ian McKinney, per Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (Twitter links). Kurtz adds that Jokisch was diagnosed with a partial tear in left abductor muscle and was set to miss six weeks. KBO teams are only allowed three roster spots for non-Korean players, so they have decided to quickly make this switch instead of waiting for Jokisch to recover.
Jokisch, 33, pitched 14 1/3 innings for the Cubs in 2014, which is the full extent of his major league experience. He has a far lengthier track record in the KBO, as this is the fifth season in which he’s pitched for the Heroes. He’s made 130 starts dating back to the 2019 season, with a 2.85 ERA in 773 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate has been in the 17-21% range for most of those seasons but he’s succeeded by reliably getting ground balls on over two thirds of balls in play.
That success has repeatedly led to him and the Heroes continuing their relationship, though it will now be severed by this injury, as the club will use the roster spot to add McKinney. The left-hander, now 28, was a fifth-round selection of the Cardinals in 2013. He was released in 2018 after topping out at Double-A. He later signed with the Mariners and made it as far as Triple-A in that organization but never made it to the majors.
In addition to that affiliated work, he’s also pitched for independent clubs, including this year. He’s made eight starts for the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League here in 2023, posting a 4.24 ERA in 46 2/3 innings, striking out 53 opponents while walking 11.
Jokisch will now be free to pursue other opportunities, though he may have to rehab from his injury first. His success in Korea led to some interest from MLB clubs prior to the 2021 season, though he ultimately stayed with the Heroes.