2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
ALBERS UPDATE FOR CANADIAN BASEBALL NETWORK
By Mike Berardino
Andrew Albers, always a straight shooter, won’t attempt to mask the fact he had a difficult debut season in the Korea Baseball Organization.
The 29-year-old left-hander from North Battleford, Sask., struggled to a 6-13 record and a 5.89 ERA in 28 starts for the last-place Hanwha Eagles in 2014.
“Obviously, I didn’t have as good a season as I would have liked,” Albers said after returning home from South Korea.
In 151 1/3 innings, Albers allowed 200 hits (18 home runs) and 40 walks while striking out just 107 in the hitter-friendly league.
However, it’s important to keep in mind the overall ERA in the KBO was 5.21 in 2014. In Major League Baseball it was 3.74.
“Everything changes,” Albers said of Korea. “It’s all about confidence, but yeah, it was hard to pitch over there. The offensive numbers skyrocketed and all those good things. The defense isn’t as good.”
Losing made a long year drag on even more for Albers, who made $700,000 in a single season after the Minnesota Twins sold his rights in January.
There has been a recent change in management for the Eagles, who went 49-77-2 in the nine-team league and finished 29 1/2 games behind first-place Samsung.
The new Hanwha manager is Kim Sung-keun, considered an old-school type.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Albers isn’t open to a return engagement.
“I haven’t really heard anything from the Korea side, so I really don’t know,” Albers said. “I’m waiting to see what happens. If I get the opportunity to go back, I probably will. “
Because the Korean Series was pushed back by the Asian Games in late September and early October, this is still a dead period for KBO free-agent imports as they assess their playing futures.
Albers and his Toronto-based agent, Blake Corosky, hope to know more about 2015 options by early December.
The Twins parted on great terms with Albers, their 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year and he earned the Canadian Baseball Network’s Canadian Minor League Pitcher of the Year going 11-6 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts with triple-A Rochester.
The finesse lefty went 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts for the Twins as a rookie that same season.
Could the Twins be an option for Albers if he returns to North America next season?
“We’re not allowed to talk to teams in North America at this point, but certainly the Twins would be an option if I’m coming back,” Albers said. “They treated me extremely well, and I know the organization, obviously. I was very happy with them, but they also have a lot of young guys coming up, so you have to think about what would be the best fit as well.”
Mike Berardino covers the Minnesota Twins for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Follow Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino