In the American Major League Baseball (MLB), he was called “Freezer”. In Japan, he was expected to be “a weapon with a hungry spirit.” Lotte’s new foreign pitcher, Aaron Wilkerson, 34, has a unique history.
Lotte released Dan Straily and signed Wilkerson, the team announced on Nov. 18. The deal is worth $350,000 ($440 million), including a $100,000 incentive.
Wilkerson made his big league debut for the Milwaukee Brewers on September 16, 2017, against the Miami Marlins. Just five years earlier, Wilkerson was working as a lowly grocery store clerk in Waco, Texas. He hadn’t been drafted by a professional organization when he graduated from the University of the Cumberlands in 2012 because he hadn’t played baseball for two years after undergoing ACL surgery in college.
Needing a job, Wilkerson worked the third shift at the grocery store. He unloaded and loaded trucks and worked in the freezer, displaying frozen foods. According to MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, Wilkerson was even offered a promotion to department manager. In the interview, Wilkerson said, “I could have stayed stocking frozen food. I probably could have made a decent living.”
But he never let go of his baseball dreams. He started pitching for the Gary South Shore Railcats in the independent league, and in July 2014, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. Traded to Milwaukee in July 2016, Wilkerson pitched a scoreless inning in his big league debut, then made a start against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 2, allowing one run on seven hits in two innings.
Recognized for his potential, he has since bounced between the MLB (14 games, 1-1 with a 6.88 ERA) and the minors (158 games, 58-31 with a 3.42 ERA). In 2021, he signed with the Rakuten Monkeys of the Taiwan Professional Baseball League, but was unable to play due to his wife’s illness.
After signing a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wilkerson signed with Japan’s Hanshin Tigers in 2022 for $680,000 ($860,000 estimated salary). It was more of a de facto “insurance policy” in the Japanese league, which has no cap on foreign players. At the time, Japanese media noted that “hunger is a weapon.”
Wilkerson went 4-2 with a 1.45 ERA in seven games through May as a substitute starter and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). However, he slumped in June, going 5-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 games, and was not re-signed. This was partly due to Hanshin’s decision to bring in a number of foreign players to shake things up. Raul Alcantara, who has been winning for the Doosan Bears this season, also returned to the KBO after failing to re-sign with the team last year after posting a 1-3 record with a 4.70 ERA in 17 appearances.카지노
Lotte recognized Wilkerson’s passion and desire for baseball, as well as his experience in Japan. That’s why they chose him as a “relief pitcher” in the midst of a tough five-team race. Wilkerson is a “floater” pitcher who throws a fastball in the mid-to-high 140 kilometers per hour, which is perfect for Busan’s Sajik Stadium. In his minor league career, he has 9.3 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine innings. He is said to have good command of his pitches and stable control.
“Wilkerson has excellent fastball movement and a strong changeup,” the Lotte team said. “I’ve experienced Asian culture in Japan, so I’m looking forward to playing Korean baseball,” Wilkerson said.