- The Tigers are bringing back right-handed pitcher Ricardo Pinto after he spent all of the 2021 season in Detroit’s minor league ranks. Pinto was previously a prospect of some note, pitching in the 2016 Futures Game in the Phillies organization before making his Major League debut a year later. A tough debut season has resulted in a whirlwind few years, as Pinto has since been stashed on various teams’ Triple-A rosters and made a tour through the KBO League in 2020. Between Double-A and Triple-A last year the right-hander pitched to a 4.29 ERA in 123 innings (23 starts), with solid peripherals dipping upon reaching Triple-A.
- The Braves have re-signed infielder Ryan Goins to a minor league pact. The 33-year-old Goins saw a good chunk of big league action from 2013-2017, serving as an oft-used utility player in Toronto. He’s bounced between a trio of teams since then, last suiting up at the major league level for the White Sox in 2020. The left-handed hitter will bring his versatile glove back to the Atlanta organization, where he spent all of his time last year in Triple-A.
- Drew Jackson and Christian Bethancourt are joining the A’s for the first time. Both players are incredibly versatile, as Jackson appeared everywhere but the catcher position for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate last year. The 28-year-old Jackson sported a patient .251/.397/.424 line across 85 games, chipping in nine home runs and 24 stolen bases (in 27 tries). The 30-year-old Bethancourt was once a frequenter of top prospect lists as a catcher in Atlanta’s talent pipeline, but has recently bounced around trying to cut it as a two-way player. The pitching project didn’t gain much traction last year but the rest of the catcher’s play was encouraging, as he fielded four positions and slashed a solid .281/.339/.468 with 14 home runs across 92 games for the Pirates’ Triple-A team.
The Tigers have signed right-hander Ben Taylor to a minor league contract, per a team announcement. The club also signed righty Cale Coshow, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Additionally, MLBTR has learned that yet another righty, Ricardo Pinto, is joining the organization.
Taylor threw 23 1/3 major league innings as a member of the Red Sox and Indians from 2017-18, in which he logged an ugly 5.40 ERA. But Taylor recorded a much more encouraging 3.94 SIERA and an above-average 24.8 percent strikeout rate during that time. The 28-year-old owns a 3.91 ERA in 126 2/3 Triple-A frames, but he struggled at that level with the Diamondbacks in 2019 and didn’t pitch professionally last season.
Coshow, also 28, is a former Yankees draft pick (13th round, 2013) who hasn’t gotten to the majors yet. He appeared in Triple-A in each season from 2017-19 and combined for a 4.89 ERA across 77 1/3 innings.
Pinto has a bit of experience in the bigs with the Phillies and Rays, with whom he posted a horrid 8.44 ERA with similarly woeful strikeout and walk percentages (15.8 and 11.9, respectively) in parts of two seasons and over 32 innings. The 27-year-old spent last season as a member of SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization, but he also had trouble keeping runs off the board there. While Pinto did amass 30 starts and 162 innings, opposing offenses lit him up for a 6.17 ERA.
The Korea Baseball Organization is set to open its regular season on May 5, without fans in attendance, and is already in the midst of its second preseason training camp. There have been reported talks to bring KBO games to a North American audience, although at this point there’s no deal in place to allow MLB fans to tune in broad-reaching, accessible fashion.
Still, as baseball-starved fans hope for some ability to monitor those games, it seems worth a rundown of which former big leaguers will be suiting up in the KBO for fans around the world to follow — even if it’s in box scores and highlight clips only. Here’s a look at some names you might recognize in the 10-team league (with a hefty tip of the cap to the indispensable MyKBO.net and MyKBOstats.com)…
Doosan Bears (2019 record: 88-55-1)
- Jose Miguel Fernandez, 1B/DH: The 32-year-old Fernandez was a notable signing out of Cuba by the Dodgers but never got a look with his original club. He latched on with the 2018 Angels and appeared in 36 games before heading to the KBO, where he posted a massive .344/.409/.483 slash even in a year that saw a leaguewide decrease in offense.
- Raul Alcantara, RHP: Alcantara, 27, pitched with the Athletics in 2016-17. He notched a 4.01 ERA in 172 2/3 with the KT Wiz in Korea last season before inking a deal with the Bears this past winter.
- Chris Flexen, RHP: Flexen struggled with the Mets from 2017-19 before signing up for his first overseas stint this past season. He had some success with the Mets’ Triple-A club and averaged a strikeout per inning at that level.
SK Wyverns (88-55-1)
- Nick Kingham, RHP: The longtime Pirates top prospect never put it together in 131 2/3 big league innings, but he’s still just 28 years old. He’ll be an interesting name to monitor with regard to a future return.
- Ricardo Pinto, RHP: The 26-year-old spent time with the Phillies, Rays and Giants organizations but struggled in limited MLB time.
- Jamie Romak, 1B: The 33-year-old Romak only has 39 MLB plate appearances on his track record, but he’s become a consistent offensive force in the KBO, hitting .283/.376/.544 in three seasons with the Wyverns.
Kiwoom Heroes (86-57-1)
- ByungHo Park, 1B: Park’s big free-agent deal with the Minnesota Twins didn’t pan out, but he’s posted an OPS north of 1.000 since returning to the Heroes two seasons ago.
- Taylor Motter, INF/OF: The versatile 30-year-old didn’t hit much in 141 MLB games between the Rays, Mariners and Twins. He’ll hope for an overseas breakout in 2020.
- Jake Brigham, RHP: Brigham, 32, only got a brief look with the 2015 Braves, but he’s entering his fourth KBO season — his second with the Heroes. In a total of 501 1/3 KBO innings, he’s posted a 3.72 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
- Eric Jokisch, LHP: An encouraging 2014 stint with the Cubs (three runs in 14 1/3 innings) never led to another MLB look for Jokisch, who bounced around the Triple-A circuit before turning in an impressive 3.13 ERA and 141-to-39 K/BB ratio in 181 1/3 frames in last year’s KBO debut.
LG Twins (79-64-1)
- Hyun-Soo Kim, OF: The former Oriole and Phillie returned to the KBO after a two-year MLB stint in 2016-17, signing a four-year, $10.7MM deal with LG. The “Hitting Machine,” as he was nicknamed in the KBO, posted an OPS north of 1.000 in his return and has largely picked up where he left off.
- Casey Kelly, RHP: The one-time star Red Sox prospect is now 30 years old and fresh off a 2.55 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 through 180 1/3 innings in his first KBO season.
- Tyler Wilson, RHP: Wilson, also 30, floundered through 145 innings with the Orioles before finding himself with the LG Twins, for whom he’s tossed 355 innings with a 2.99 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
- Roberto Ramos, 1B: One of the few players on this list who never appeared in the Majors, the 25-year-old Ramos is a former Rockies prospect who signed on for his first season of Asian ball after hitting .309/.400/.580 in Triple-A last year.
NC Dinos (73-69-2)
- Aaron Altherr, OF: One of the more recognizable names on the list, Altherr at times looked like a budding star with the Phillies. He fizzled out after some notable injuries, though, and is will make his KBO debut at 29 this year.
- Mike Wright, RHP: Another former O’s hurler, Wright appeared in parts of five seasons with Baltimore. He had his share of success in Triple-A (3.76 ERA) but regularly struggled in the big leagues (6.00 ERA in 258 frames). He’s making his KBO debut this season as well.
- Drew Rucinski, RHP: The 31-year-old saw time with the Angels, Twins and most recently the Marlins (2018). He returns to the Dinos after pitching 177 2/3 frames of 3.05 ERA ball in 2019 (6.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9).
KT Wiz (71-71-2)
- Odrisamer Despaigne, RHP: The 2020 season will be the first in the KBO for the 33-year-old Despaigne — a six-year MLB veteran who has tallied 363 innings in the big leagues.
- Jae-Gyun Hwang, 3B: The (San Francisco) Giants signed Hwang back in 2017 but never gave him a long look despite a memorable home run in his MLB debut. He’s a productive regular in the KBO once again, having signed a four-year, $7.9MM deal with the Wiz prior to the 2018 season.
- Mel Rojas Jr., OF: The 29-year-old Rojas never got a chance with the Pirates or Braves, and he’s now one of the KBO’s top hitters. In three seasons with the Wiz, Rojas has mashed at a .310/.377/.561 clip. He’s hit 30 homers in consecutive seasons.
- William Cuevas, RHP: Cuevas, 29, got a cup of coffee with both the Red Sox and Tigers before jumping to the KBO and posting a 3.62 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 184 innings last year.
Kia Tigers (62-80-2)
- Preston Tucker, OF: The former Astros prospect had a hot start with the ’18 Braves but faded quickly. He’s set for a second season with the Tigers after hitting .311/.381/.479 in last year’s debut effort.
- Aaron Brooks, RHP: Brooks, 30 next week, pitched for the A’s, Royals and O’s between 2014-19 but struggled to a 6.49 ERA in 179 2/3 innings. He’s set for his KBO debut.
- Drew Gagnon, RHP: A third-round pick of the Brewers in 2011, Gagnon saw MLB action with the Mets in 2018-19 but performed poorly. He had a bit 2019 season in Triple-A (2.33 ERA in 88 2/3 innings), which helped attract interest overseas.
Samsung Lions (60-83-1)
- Seunghwan Oh, RHP: Oh enjoyed a quality four-year run with the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Rockies before undergoing elbow surgery last summer and heading back to the Lions, for whom he starred for nine seasons as one of the best relievers in league history (a tenure that earned him his incredible “Final Boss” nickname).
- Tyler Saladino, INF: The former White Sox utilityman saw MLB time with the Brewers in 2018-19 and now heads to South Korea for the first time at 30 years of age.
- David Buchanan, RHP: Buchanan hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since a 2014-15 run with the Phillies. He’s spent the past three seasons with Japan’s Yakult Swallows, working to a 4.07 ERA in 433 innings — mostly working as a starter.
- Ben Lively, RHP: A prospect of some note for a bit with the Phillies, Lively had a solid MLB debut in ’17 but never further established himself. He gave the Lions 57 innings of 3.95 ERA ball after signing midseason in 2019.
Hanwha Eagles (58-86)
- Jared Hoying, OF: Hoying barely got a look with the Rangers in 2016-17, but he’s compiled a .296/.355/.519 slash in two seasons with the Eagles so far.
- Warwick Saupold, RHP: The Aussie hurler managed a 4.98 ERA in three seasons with the Tigers before taking his 80-grade name to the KBO. In last year’s 192-inning debut, he logged a 3.51 ERA.
- Chad Bell, LHP: Bell and Saupold were teammates with the Tigers. Both debuted in the KBO last year, and Bell’s 3.50 ERA is a near-identical match to his longtime teammate.
Lotte Giants (48-93-3)
- Dan Straily, RHP: The most accomplished pitcher on this list, Straily racked up 495 1/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball with the Reds and Marlins from 2016-18 before his production fell off a cliff in 2019. He’ll hope to rebound on a one-year, $1MM deal with the Giants.
- Dae-ho Lee, 1B: The 37-year-old slugger came to the Majors for one season with the 2016 Mariners before returning to Korea on a four-year, $12.9MM contract that represented the largest deal in KBO history at the time. Lee’s bat faded in 2019, but he mashed 37 homers with a .987 OPS in 2018.
- Adrian Sampson, RHP: The 31-year-old comes to the Giants for his own KBO debut with a solid Triple-A track record but an ugly 5.71 ERA in 153 MLB innings.
- Dixon Machado, INF: Yet another former Tiger, Machado spent 2019 with the Cubs’ Triple-A club, where he hit .261/.371/.480 before agreeing to a deal with Lotte this winter.
7:52pm: Pinto’s deal comes with a $550K base salary, a $100K signing bonus and another $250K of incentives, MLBTR has learned.
5:12pm: The Giants announced today that outfielder Mike Gerber rejected an outright assignment and instead elected free agency. Additionally, per the club, right-hander Ricardo Pinto was released to pursue an opportunity with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization. Both players had recently been designated for assignment.
Gerber, 27, went 1-for-24 in his brief time with the Giants at the MLB level, though he did author an impressive .308/.368/.569 batting line with 26 homers in Triple-A. The former Tigers prospect had never hit much in Triple-A before that — he batted .213/.277/.411 in 316 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo in 2018 — and he’ll turn 28 next summer.
Pinto, meanwhile, was a September waiver claim out of the Rays organization who never pitched in a game for San Francisco. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings with Tampa Bay this season in addition to 123 1/3 innings of 4.23 ERA ball at the Triple-A level. The L.A. Sports Management client has appeared in parts of three Triple-A campaigns overall, working more as a reliever than a starter and pitching to a combined 4.47 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 219 2/3 frames.
The Giants announced a flurry of roster moves, claiming infielder Kean Wong from the Angels and right-hander Trevor Oaks from the Royals. The Giants also formally announced their previously reported claim of righty Rico Garcia from the Rockies organization. In order to open space on for the trio of new additions, San Francisco designated outfielder Mike Gerber and right-hander Ricardo Pinto for assignment.
Wong’s time in the Angels organization will ultimately last barely more than a month. The Halos claimed him from the Rays near the end of the season, and the 24-year-old went hitless in four plate appearances in the lone game for which he suited up with the team. Wong, the younger brother of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, was the Rays’ fourth-round pick back in the 2013 draft and made his MLB debut as a September call-up with Tampa Bay. Between his six games with the Rays and one game with the Angels, he went 3-for-18.
Wong spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Durham, where he logged his second consecutive above-average season at the plate. After hitting .282/.345/.406 with nine homers, 23 doubles, three triples and seven steals in 2018, he turned in a .307/.375/.464 slash with 10 homers, 29 doubles, six triples and six steals in 2019. Offense was elevated throughout the league in Triple-A this season, but Wong’s output checked in at 16 percent better than league average, as measured by wRC+. Primarily been a second baseman in his minor league career, Wong began logging time at third base and in the outfield beginning in 2018 as the Rays looked to enhance his versatility.
Oaks, meanwhile, is a known commodity for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. The 26-year-old Oaks was a seventh-round pick by Zaidi’s former club, the Dodgers, back in 2014 and was traded to Kansas City in a three-team swap while Zaidi was serving as general manager under L.A. president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman.
At the time of that trade, which sent Scott Alexander to Los Angeles, Oaks was ranked in the middle of the Dodgers’ farm system. He looked like a potential back-of-the-rotation option but has seen his prospect status derailed by hip surgery that wiped out his 2019 season. He was healthy enough to take the ball in the Arizona Fall League this year, though, where he allowed six earned runs on 14 hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts in 12 innings of work.
Oaks was hit hard in his MLB debut in 2018 but did put together 128 1/3 innings of 3.23 ERA ball with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate that season. Unfortunately, he averaged a dismal 4.9 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 along the way — though his 50.8 percent ground-ball rate was a bit more encouraging. For now, Oaks will add some upper-level depth to the Giants roster.
None of the three players claimed today, however, should be considered any kind of lock to survive the winter on the Giants’ roster. Zaidi and his staff have been known to aggressively claim players off waivers in hopes of successfully passing that player through waivers themselves shortly thereafter as a means of keeping those new talents without dedicating a 40-man roster spot.
As for the players cut loose — neither is particularly surprising. Gerber, 27, went 1-for-24 in his brief time with the Giants at the MLB level, though he did author an impressive .308/.368/.569 batting line with 26 homers in Triple-A. The former Tigers prospect had never hit much in Triple-A before that, however, and he’ll turn 28 next summer.
Pinto, meanwhile, was a September waiver claim out of the Rays organization who never pitched in a game for San Francisco. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings with Tampa Bay this season in addition to 123 1/3 innings of 4.23 ERA ball at the Triple-A level. The Giants have seven days to trade, release or waive Gerber and Pinto.
Pinto has been hit hard in each of his two, brief MLB stints but hasn’t yet received a full opportunity. In 123 1/3 innings this year in the upper minors, he carried a 4.23 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9.
One thing that isn’t in doubt is Pinto’s arm speed. He has shown upper-nineties heat whether leaning on a two-seam or four-seam fastball. Perhaps the Giants have some ideas for unlocking Pinto’s potential — much as they did with Gott.
The Rays have selected the contract of righty Ricardo Pinto, as MLB.com’s Juan Toribio was among those to tweet. Righty Jose De Leon was optioned. To create 40-man space, infielder Yandy Diaz was placed on the 60-day injured list.
Pinto, 25, will get his second crack at the big leagues after previously appearing with the Phillies back in 2017. His 25-appearance debut didn’t go well, as he was tagged for 26 earned runs in 29 2/3 innings.
Since joining the Rays organization over the offseason, Pinto has worked as a bulk guy. He has spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he carries a 4.13 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 over 104 2/3 innings. It remains to be seen how extensively the Rays will utilize Pinto. He could hold a job for the month of September or be designated in a few days if the club has other ideas for his roster spot.
June 2nd: Pinto has been outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports on Twitter.
May 28th: The White Sox have placed designated hitter/corner infielder Matt Davidson on the disabled list, designated right-hander Ricardo Pinto for assignment and selected the contract of corner infielder Matt Skole, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
Back spasms have already kept Davidson out of action for nearly a week, so his DL placement is retroactive to May 25. The former well-regarded prospect had finally been enjoying a breakout season when healthy. In his age-27 campaign, Davidson has slashed .243/.368/.521 with 11 home runs in 171 plate appearances to perhaps emerge as a long-term piece for the rebuilding White Sox.
While Davidson has continued his high-strikeout ways, having fanned 32.2 percent of the time, he has also notched a personal-best 15.8 percent walk rate – up from the paltry 4.3 mark he posted in 2017. Moreover, Davidson ranks in the league’s upper echelon in exit velocity on fly balls and line drives, barrels per plate appearance and xwOBA (.419), according to Statcast.
Davidson’s injury creates room for Skole, who inked a minors deal with the White Sox in the offseason. Skole, a fifth-round pick of the Nationals in 2011, is now in position to make his major league debut at the age of 28. Once a promising prospect, Skole owns a .241/.336/.440 line in 1,168 PAs at Triple-A, including a .259/.360/.442 showing in 172 tries this season.
The addition of Skole could cost the White Sox the 24-year-old Pinto, whom they acquired from the Phillies in March. Pinto hasn’t exactly turned in great results at Triple-A Charlotte, having logged an 8.10 ERA with 8.10 K/9 and 7.2 BB/9 over 10 innings. He was far more successful last year at the minors’ highest level with the Phillies, as he recorded a 3.86 ERA, 6.82 K/9 and 2.67 BB/9 across 60 frames. Pinto even racked up 29 2/3 innings in Philly, but he struggled to a 7.89 ERA during that span.
The White Sox have acquired righty Ricardo Pinto from the Phillies, per a club announcement. International bonus pool money of an unknown quantity will head to the Phils in the swap.
Pinto becomes the latest hurler to join the White Sox bullpen depth chart, though the odds are that he’ll open the season in the minors. The 24-year-old did not show well in his first effort at the majors but has generally been effective in the minors.
Last year, Pinto worked to a 3.86 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 60 2/3 Triple-A innings. Though he mostly functioned as a starter in prior seasons, he split his time between the rotation and bullpen in 2017. It certainly seems as if Pinto’s future hopes lie in the relief corps.
The Phillies have designated right-hander Ricardo Pinto for assignment, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. His 40-man roster spot will go to infielder Scott Kingery, whom the Phillies signed to a long-term contract Sunday.
Pinto, 24, joined the Phillies as a Venezuelan prospect back in 2011. He debuted competitively the next season and reached the majors a year ago, when he struggled over 29 2/3 innings. Pinto worked to a 7.89 ERA/6.36 FIP with 7.58 K/9, 5.16 BB/9 and a 44 percent groundball rate. He was far more effective during his first Triple-A action in 2017, as he posted a 3.86 ERA/3.57 FIP with fewer strikeouts (6.82 K/9) but far fewer walks (2.67 BB/9). With two options remaining, he could be Triple-A depth again this season.