Exploring the Cardinals' history of signing pitchers from Japan and Korea

The Cardinals have dabbled in the Japanese and Korean leagues for baseball players a few times recently. Which players did they pluck, and how did they perform in their time stateside?

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks worked his way up to the majors after being drafted in 2012. He made his major league debut in 2015 with the Kansas City Royals and subsequently played for the Oakland Athletics that same year. In 2020, Aaron Brooks decided to move to Korea and play for the Kia Tigers in the KBO. He played two years there as a starting pitcher.

Brooks pitched a total of 229 innings in the KBO between 2020 and 2021. The Tigers released him in 2021 after they found traces of marijuana in a vape pen that he owned. His release from the team aside, Aaron Brooks pitched quite well in Korea. He had an ERA below 3.00, didn't give up many home runs (0.4 home runs per nine innings), and finished his career overseas with a 14-9 record.

St. Louis signed Aaron Brooks to a minor league contract in late January of 2022. He didn't have the best strikeout numbers, but he was able to command his pitches and limit hits and walks in Korea. He did make the Opening Day roster, but he went on to pitch only 9.1 innings in five games. Brooks finished the season with a 7.71 ERA and was released from the team in October after spending time in Memphis.

Brooks is a good example of strong foreign statistics not translating to the majors. He even struggled in Memphis (5.56 ERA in 69.2 innings). He was never a strong player before he went to Korea, but St. Louis figured his command and control would translate back to the United States. That was not the case, though, and Brooks hasn't been back in the majors since his brief stint with St. Louis.