Remember Luke Scott, Jorge Cantu?

March 4, 2014

Rule change leads to more former MLB sluggers playing in Korea this year

By Baek Byung-yeul

With the start of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) exhibition season just days away, fans are gearing up for another season. One major difference they’ll be watching for is an increased number of foreign players.

The SK Wyverns’ Luke Brandon Scott is among the foreign players drawing attention ahead of Korea Baseball Organization season opening on March 29.  (AP-Yonhap)

The SK Wyverns’ Luke Brandon Scott is among the foreign players drawing attention ahead of Korea Baseball Organization season opening on March 29.
(AP-Yonhap)

The KBO has decided to allow teams to sign three players from abroad, up from two last year. (The NC Dinos, an expansion team last year, are allowed four). The rule change is already having an effect, motivating teams to sign batters in addition to the two pitchers they have traditionally sought.

How the additional firepower will impact the landscape will be one of the top storylines when preseason games begin Saturday.

No foreign batters have played in the league since 2011 as the teams have preferred “small ball,” emphasizing pitching and the manufacturing of runs. There’s also a belief that foreign batters take more time to adjust to the league.

But this season, nine of the 28 foreigners are batters. And they all have experience either in Major League Baseball (MLB), Minor League Baseball (MILB) or Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Among them, Luke Scott of the SK Wyverns and Jorge Cantu of the Doosan Bearsspot.

Cantu, who played in the Mexican League last season, is another slugger who may are the most notable, because both have considerable MLB experience.

Scott, who can play first base and outfield, hit more than 20 home runs for three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2010 while playing for the Baltimore Orioles. Last season, he hit nine homeruns in 91 games for the Tampa Bay Rays.

SK manager Lee Man-soo will use the 35-year-old slugger in the team’s clean-up be aiming to hit around 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. While playing for the Florida Marlins in 2008, he hit 29 homeruns at his age of 26.

Bears manager Song Il-soo plans to have him batting fourth or fifth in the lineup.

No KBO players have hit more than 40 homeruns since Lee Dae-ho, who currently plays for the Softbank Hawks of Japan’s NPB, had 44 in 2010.

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