SSG Landers achieved more than a ‘middling’ in foreign player contracts last year. Wilmer Font (13-6, 2.69 ERA) in the second year of the KBO League has been reborn as an ace. Ivan Nova and Kevin Kron were replaced due to sluggishness during the season, but both substitutes played an active role. Sean Morimando (7-1, 1.67 ERA) and Juan Lagares (0.315 batting average, 6 home runs) contributed to the ‘Wire-to-Wire’ championship.
You can stay with proven foreign players for one more year, but SSG chose the risk of complete replacement. Annie Romero (32) was hired instead of Font, and Kirk McCarty (28) fills Morrimando’s place. As a foreign hitter, he signed Guillermo Heredia (32), the same outfielder as Lagares.
Foreign players influence the club’s year-round farming. So, the value of the font, which was a verified foreign player, especially a verified foreign ace, was great.
Expectations for new players are higher than empty seats. An SSG official explained the reason for the replacement, saying, “Romero is a left-handed font, and McCarty is an upgraded version of Morimando.”
Romero, who is expected to be the first starter, has experience in Asian baseball. Having made his debut in the American Major League (MLB), he has played in Nippon Professional Baseball (17-19, 3.60 ERA) for the past four years.
The reason why SSG expects Romero’s performance is because of his ‘post-KBO league’ pitch. Romero boasts a fastball with a top speed of 164 km/h. An official from SSG predicted, “Last year, Font believed in his fastball and saw an effect by throwing a pitch in the middle of the strike zone. Romero will also find it difficult for batters to attack if he throws a fastball strike well.” 스포츠토토
There are other things to compare besides fonts. When asked to compare with Robert Stock (former Doosan Bears) who also threw 160km per hour to an SSG official, he explained, “The fastball pitch is similar. Romero’s main weapons are his slider and circle changeup. Compared to Stark, who only used fastballs and sliders, he has many weapons.
McCarty’s pace is also smooth. McCarty threw a fastball with a maximum speed of 146 km/h in a bullpen pitch on the 29th of last month. Pitching coach Jo Ung-cheon also said of McCarty, “I felt that the power of the fastball was good, and the movement of the cutter and slider, the main weapon, was good. Overall, he has a stable pitch and a good pitch,” he praised.
SSG doesn’t care about the skills of the two pitchers. The only variable is durability. Romero’s 2020 season ended prematurely with a shoulder injury. Japanese media Baseball King pointed out that “Romero has never played a full-time season in Japan.” McCarty also exceeded the KBO League rule innings (144 innings) only in 2018 (146 and 1/3 innings).
He’s not as easy to pull off as Font as an innings eater. Font recorded first place in the league last year with 16 quality start pluses (7 or more starting innings and 3 earned runs or less). SSG, whose bullpen was weak, minimized the consumption of the winning team during the font appearance.