Major League Baseball is still sorting out whether there will be a season in 2020, but former Los Angeles Dodgers players are excelling in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Quick, raise your hand if you’ve been enjoying KBO baseball! If you have, you’re likely not alone. Some former members of the Los Angeles Dodgers have been enjoying it too.
While Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association continue their public bickering over who gets to earn more, the Korean Baseball Organization has been going strong since early May. Baseball fans have been taking notice as well, clambering for their fill of the national pastime by looking overseas for their fix. Teams like the NC Dinos, Doosan Bears, and LG Twins are drawing in new fans thanks to ESPN bringing their games to a North American audience and capturing every bat flip and stuffed animal in the stands.
However, if you want more of a reason to invest your time and love for the game into KBO games, than look no further. The Dodgers have a couple of players that are featured prominently in the league.
Former Dodgers hitters in the KBO – Jose Miguel Fernandez
We will forgive Dodgers fans for not remembering much about Jose Miguel Fernandez. Originally signed as an amateur free agent in January 2017 after he defected from Cuba. Already 29-years-old when he made his debut for the Dodgers with the Tulsa Drillers, the team apparently kept him on a short leash. He would appear in just 93 games between Double and Triple-A, hitting .306/.367/.496 with 16 home runs and 65 RBI, but the Dodgers ultimately opted to release him after the completion of the season.
He would latch on with the Angels and get his only shot at Major League Baseball in 2018. In 36 games and 123 plate appearances, Fernandez would slash .267/.309/.388 with two home runs and 11 RBI. Like the Dodgers, the Angels decided against bringing him back for another season, setting up his trip to South Korea.
That move proved fruitful.
With the Doosan Bears in 2019, Fernadez blossomed. He would appear in 144 games, hitting .344/.409/.483 in his first season in Korea. That average was good for second in the league, while his 276 total bases also ranked second. Coupled with 15 home runs and 88 RBI, it was a breakout campaign for the former Dodger.
If his 2019 season appeared to be an anomaly, his 2020 start is undoubtedly putting that argument to rest. Through 21 games, Fernandez leads the league with a .465 average, 40 hits, and is second in RBI (22), doubles (9), and OPS (1.193). He’s also hitting a blistering .550 with runners in scoring position.
He’s obviously found a home and will be one to watch as the KBO season continues.
Former Dodgers hitters in the KBO – Jamie Romak
Jose Miguel Fernandez is not the only former Dodger that has found Korean pitching to his liking. Jamie Romak spent time with seven different MLB organizations, including the Dodgers, before making his way east and excelling in South Korea.
Romak saw time with the Dodgers organization in 2014, starting the season with Triple-A Albuquerque and then finally made his MLB with Los Angeles at the tender age of 28. He would appear in 15 games with the Dodgers, hitting .048/.130/.095 in 23 plate appearances. LA would release him after the season, and he would have stops in Arizona and San Diego before taking his shot overseas.
Like Fernandez, Romak has thrived in the KBO and is now playing in his fourth season in the league, all with the SK Wyverns. In an extremely hitter-friendly league, Romak has finished second in the league in home runs each of the last two seasons, including 29 last season and 43 in 2018. Overall, he’s slashed .281/.375/.546 with 105 home runs and 273 RBI.
While his overall resume is impressive, Romak is off to a slower start in 2020. In 22 games, he’s hitting .263/.349/.397 with two home runs and seven RBI. Since his last home run on May 20th, he has just six hits in his last 26 at-bats (.230) with seven strikeouts.
Regardless, he’s made a name for himself in the KBO and if his past few seasons are any indicator, he should rebound quickly.