Ex-MLB pitcher Pannone set to join Kia Tigers in KBO

SEOUL-- Former major league pitcher Thomas Pannone is on his way to South Korea.

The Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Tuesday they have signed Pannone at US$300,000 for the rest of the season.

Pannone announced on his Instagram page earlier in the day that he will be pitching for the Tigers the rest of this season. The 28-year-old left-hander had been pitching for the Worcester Red Sox in Triple-A this year. Reports out of Worcester earlier in the day had also said Pannone was leaving the minor league team for South Korea.

Pannone will replace Ronnie Williams, who was waived Tuesday to make room for the new left-hander. Williams went 3-3 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 starts in his first KBO season. He had 32 strikeouts and 28 walks in 44 1/3 innings, while missing time with some elbow issues earlier in the season.

The Tigers' other foreign pitcher, Sean Nolin, is on the sidelines with a calf injury. He has a 2-5 record with a 3.53 ERA in eight starts but has not pitched since May 20.

KBO clubs can each carry a maximum two foreign pitchers.

Pannone was a 33rd-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2012 but opted to go to college. He reentered the draft the following year and was selected in the ninth round by the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians).

Pannone was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in July 2017 and made his big league debut with the club the following year. He compiled a 7-7 record and a 5.43 ERA in 49 games, including 13 starts, across two seasons for the Blue Jays.

This year, Pannone went 5-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 14 appearances, a dozen of them starts, for Worcester. He struck out 70 and walked only eight in 63 innings.

Before the Tigers, the Hanwha Eagles and the KT Wiz had also replaced their foreign pitchers. The Eagles have replaced Ryan Carpenter and Nick Kingham with Yefry Ramirez and Felix Pena. The Wiz parted ways with William Cuevas and acquired Wes Benjamin.

Pannone is the fourth member of the 2019 Blue Jays to play in the KBO this season. He will join his new Tigers teammate Socrates Brito, SSG Landers starter Wilmer Font and Wiz outfielder Anthony Alford in that group.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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