Left-hander Enmanuel De Jesus has signed on with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. Yoo indicates that the one-year pact between the sides is worth $800K.
De Jesus, 27 last week, signed with the Red Sox out of Venezuela back in 2014. De Jesus spent seven season with Boston working his way up the minor leagues, largely working out of the rotation despite eclipsing 70 innings of work in a season just twice during that time. From 2021 to 2023, De Jesus jumped between Triple-A affiliates with the Red Sox, Giants, and Marlins organizations, pitching to a 4.61 ERA with a 191 1/3 innings of work throughout the time. De Jesus ultimately got his first look in the big leagues as a September call up with Miami this past autumn. He drew two appearances with the Marlins during the stretch run but struggled in those trips to the mound, allowing eight runs on nine hits and four walks while striking out five and hitting three batters across 6 1/3 innings of work.
Despite his limited exposure at the upper levels of the minors and struggles in his two major league appearances, De Jesus has managed to secure a spot overseas, where he’ll be making more than the major league minimum next season. Clearly, the Heroes see something in De Jesus; as Yoo notes, KBO organizations can only sign three foreign players, with a maximum of two pitchers. For Kiwoom to commit one of those two slots to De Jesus, they were surely intrigued by his profile. De Jesus’s career has been marked with inconsistency as he’s switched between starting and relief roles and shuffled throughout multiple levels of the minors and organizations in recent years, but he posted some impressive peripherals in 101 2/3 innings of work with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate in 2022 as he paired a 25.2% strikeout rate with a 42.2% groundball rate.
While De Jesus has yet to establish himself in stateside ball, plenty of players have gone on to has successful careers overseas and even return to the majors later on in their career. Diamondbacks righty Merrill Kelly is perhaps the most successful pitcher to revitalize his career with a sojourn to Korea, though it’s possible that reigning KBO MVP Erick Fedde will join him after signing a two-year pact with the White Sox earlier this season. At just 27 years old, De Jesus is certainly young enough to return to the majors at some point should he successfully establish himself as a quality starter on the other side of the world.