Aaron Wilkerson, the Lotte Giants’ “New Furbo,” had a successful debut. He wasn’t perfect, but he pitched impressively enough to show promise.
Wilkerson started the Giants’ 10th game of the season against the Doosan Bears in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on June 26, and pitched five innings, throwing 76 pitches for six hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and two runs (two earned) to earn his first win.
Lotte has been struggling with foreign pitching all season, as the “one-two punch” of Dan Streeley and Charlie Barnes, who reunited for last year’s postseason run, have both been disappointing. While Barnes has been “impregnable” when healthy, Streeley’s velocity and command have declined over the years.
Lotte changed its foreign bats before the All-Star break, and on the 18th, right in the middle of the break, it brought Wilkerson in to replace Straylor, who had been dubbed the “hairy ace. Wilkerson’s biggest selling point was his experience with “Asian” baseball. Wilkerson spent last year with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball, going 5-5 with a 4.08 ERA. 토토사이트
While the “end” of his Hanshin career was not a good one, his early season performance was certainly impressive. In his first month with Hanshin, Wilkerson made three appearances (17⅔ innings), going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA. He then had his best month in May. Wilkerson went 3-1 with a 1.04 ERA in four starts (26 innings), and was named the Central League’s monthly MVP.
The problem came later. Wilkerson struggled mightily in June, going 1-0 with a 9.19 ERA in four starts (15⅔ innings), and even though he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts (10⅔ innings) in July, he was increasingly unavailable, and he and Hanshin were no longer together at the end of the season.
After leaving Hanshin, Wilkerson went 3-2 with a 6.51 ERA at Triple-A Oakland Athletics this year, as he struggled to adjust to new rules such as robot umpires and pitch clocks. Lotte took all of this into consideration and signed Wilkerson to a contract totaling $350,000 ($250,000 base salary, $100,000 option).
Manager Larry Sutton’s initial assessment of Wilkerson was favorable: “I thought he looked very good,” said Sutton, who watched Wilkerson’s first live pitch on April 22. “You could see he was aggressive in the strike zone, he had very good feel with his fingertips, and he had the weapons to get hitters out. All of his pitches were good,” he said.
Wilkerson was equally ambitious: “I’m a different person in an interview than I am on the mound. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes is my biggest strength, and I’ve been able to maintain that throughout my career and experience the major leagues. I love to compete, I love to fly 8000 meters.