BUSAN, South Korea – Each Korean baseball team is alloted two foreign players each season. After releasing West Viginian pitcher, Jon Adkins (which was dissapointing to those of us who loved Jonny) the Giants have signed another American pitcher, Ryan Sadowski.
After pitching with the University of Florida's heralded baseball program, pitcher Ryan Sadowski was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the thirteenth round (397 overall) of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft. Seven years later the right hander made notched a victory in his MLB debut with the G-Boys with a solid game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"The Big Sadowski" went on to win his second start, throwing thirteen shutout innings over the course of the two games. The hot debut wasn't to last: Sadowski went on to lose his next four starts, allowing 14 earned runs in 15.1 innings pitched. He was shippped back down to AAA Fresno, eventually joining the Astros organization.
Welcome to life in the big leagues.
Sadowski’s career minor league numbers weren't stellar but neither were they shabby: 4.28 ERA, 412.1 IP, 393 hits and 177 walks allowed and a solid 356 strikouts recorded. While the numbers don't suggest he would have gotten back into the majors, one never knows what lucky break (which usually involves someone else's bad luck) could have brought Sadowski back to the majors.
According to Tom Dubberke writing for Bleacher Report, giving up on the MLB might have been a risky move. "It’s interesting (to me at least) to think whether or not this is a good move by Sadowski. He’ll be 27 in 2010, so going to Korea now probably means the end of his chances to have an MLB career.
But there could be sound logic in signing with Lotte. That being that he will play under American manager Jerry Royster.
Royster, who himself just resigned for one more year with the Giants after taking the one-time joke of Korean baseball to the playoffs two years in a row, is known as being fiercly loyal to his players –much to the chagrin of Lotte fans last year who were frustrated with Royster sticking with several players who were floundering. Royster's baseball sense of course paid off in the end –especially with Mexian slugger, Karim Garcia.
The potential wisdom in Sadowski's move to Korea is that Royster will more than likely pick up an MLB coaching spot next season –if he can do what he has been doing with the Giants. That could be Sadowski's way back into the majors if he has a solid year with the Lotte Boys.
Dubberke also had this to say about Sadowski: "I have to think that Sadowski is good enough to be successful in the KBO, so long as he can adjust to living in Korea. However, a lot of American players can’t."
Come on, Tom. You ever actually been here?
Welcome to Busan, Ryan.
The Lotte Giants 2010 season will kick off in early March.
Oh, one more thing: Look for a bit of bias in my reporting on Sadowski–I grew up on University of Florida baseball and then lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 17 years. Though I have yet to meet the guy, we got some serious geographical connections.