The Generales de Durango of the Mexican League announced this week they’ve signed right-hander Enderson Franco for the 2022 season. It’ll be the first stint in Mexico for the 29-year-old.
Franco has a bit of big league experience, having suited up in five games with the Giants in 2019. The Venezuela native tallied 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball while averaging just under 96 MPH on his fastball, but he hasn’t logged any other MLB time. He’s spent a decade in the affiliated ranks, though, performing fairly well up through Double-A but struggling at the minors’ highest level. In parts of three Triple-A campaigns, Franco owns a 5.43 ERA with a below-average 19.5% strikeout percentage but a solid 7.4% walk rate.
While Franco has never missed many bats, his combination of arm strength and track record of throwing strikes caught the attention of the Korea Baseball Organization’s Lotte Giants last winter. He signed with the Busan-based club and spent the 2021 season in South Korea. Franco tallied 150 innings in the KBO and posted a 5.40 ERA with an 18.3% strikeout rate while uncharacteristically walking 11.1% of opponents. Lotte brought in former big leaguers Charlie Barnes and Glenn Sparkman as their two allotted foreign-born pitchers this offseason, replacing the outgoing Franco and Dan Straily (who signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks).
As the Generales noted in their announcement of Franco’s signing, he has experience in both rotation and relief roles. He has started 163 of his 183 minor league appearances, but he came out of the bullpen in all five of his big league outings and worked in both capacities (27 starts, 10 relief appearances) with Lotte last season. Franco pitched in seven games — all in relief — during Venezuelan Winter League action this offseason.