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Former MLB Players You Didn’t Know Played in South Korea

 Conor Liguori  |    May 3rd, 2024 1:08pm EDT

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Since its inception in 1982, the Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League, known simply as the Korea Baseball Organization, has hosted dozens of former Major League Baseball players.  

Some players traveled to South Korea to continue their playing careers, and others wanted a chance to have consistent playing time. However, professional baseball in the KBO is no joke, as South Korea is currently ranked the No. 4 country in the World Baseball rankings.  

Here are 10 former MLB players you may not have known played in the Korea Baseball Organization.  

 

  1. Nyjer Morgan, OF, Hanwha Eagles 

 

Many remember Morgan for his temper and series-clinching walk-off single in the 2011 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but what about his time in the KBO?   

Morgan was released by the Cleveland Guardians in August 2014 and signed with the Eagles in December—the lefty hit .273 with five RBI in 10 games before playing his final two seasons in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.  

 

  1. Ryan Garko, 1B, Samsung Lions

 

Garko, known mainly for his time with the Cleveland Guardians from 2005-09, played 58 games for the Lions in 2011, hitting .243 with one home run and 28 RBI. The organization released him mid-season due to injuries.  

Garko hit a career-high 21 home runs with Cleveland in 2007 and played his last game in professional baseball in 2012 with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.  

 

  1. Scott Proctor, RHP, Doosan Bears 

 

Proctor was never the best arm out of the bullpen for any MLB team he played for (NYY, ATL, LAD), but he dominated for the Bears in 2012. In 57 games, Proctor posted a 1.79 ERA and did not allow a home run.   

Proctor retired from professional baseball after a brief stint with Triple-A Norfolk in the Baltimore Orioles organization in 2013.  

 

  1. Brandon Barnes, OF, Hanwha Eagles 

 

After six seasons in MLB with the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, and Cleveland Guardians (2012-18), Barnes finished his career in South Korea with the Eagles in 2020.   

In 74 games, the outfielder was reasonably productive, hitting nine home runs with 42 RBI and a .769 OPS. He attended Cypress College in Orange, California, the same school that former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman attended.  

 

  1. Jose Lima, RHP, KIA Tigers

 

Lima, a one-time MLB All-Star from the Dominican Republic, went 21-10 in 1999 for the first-place Houston Astros and had trouble with the long ball, leading MLB with 48 home runs allowed in 2000.   

In 2008, Lima appeared in 14 games for the KIA Tigers, posting a 6.04 ERA in 70 innings. He recorded just 28 strikeouts, which is only 3.6 strikeouts per nine innings.  

 

  1. Alexi Ogando, RHP, Hanwha Eagles

 

Ogando was an overlooked piece of the Texas Rangers pitching staff that made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. As an All-Star in 2011, Ogando posted a 3.51 ERA and started the season 7-0.   

Partial involvement in a human trafficking ring where he agreed to marry a woman to get her into the United States delayed his initial contract with Texas in 2005, and he signed an agreement with Hanwha in 2017. Ogando, from the Dominican Republic, went 10-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 19 starts for the Eagles.  

 

  1. Roger Bernadina, OF, KIA Tigers

 

Bernadina, who recently played for Curacao in the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami, Florida, played seven years in MLB from 2008-14, mainly with the Washington Nationals. He signed with the Montreal Expos in 2001.  

Bernadina played two seasons for the Tigers from 2017-18, hitting .315 with 47 home runs in 270 games. He stole 64 bases in 84 attempts.  

 

  1. Adonis Garcia, OF, LG Twins

 

Born in Ciego de Avila, Cuba, Garcia hit an impressive .339 with eight home runs and 34 RBI for the Twins in 2018, right after finishing his three-year MLB career with the Atlanta Braves in 2017.  

Garcia’s younger brother, Adolis, is an outfielder for the Texas Rangers and was the ALCS MVP in 2023 against the Houston Astros.  

 

  1. Carlos Baerga, 2B, Samsung Lions 

 

Baerga, born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, played 15 seasons in the MLB from 1990-05, mainly with the Cleveland Guardians. He was a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger with Cleveland and played 39 games for the Lions in 2001.  

He hit .275 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 131 plate appearances and spent the other half of 2001 in the Atlantic League with the Long Island Ducks. He played four more seasons in the MLB with the Boston Red Sox (2002), Arizona Diamondbacks (2003-04), and Washington Nationals (2005) before retiring.  

 

  1. Mickey Callaway, RHP, Hyundai Unicorns 

 

Callaway appeared in just 40 games in the MLB from 1999-2004 and never found success, as evidenced by his 6.27 career ERA. He experienced similar negative results as the New York Mets manager from 2018-19, with a 163-161 record.  

Despite his struggles as a player and manager in MLB, Callaway was a two-time KBO All-Star and went 32-22 in 69 starts from 2005-07 for the Hyundai Unicorns, who played their last season in the KBO in 2007.  

In February 2021, five women who worked in sports media accused Callaway of sexual harassment, and following an investigation, MLB banned him from the league until the end of the 2022 season. Callaway was fired from his position as Los Angeles Angels pitching coach.