|Andy Van Hekken is the newest Lion|
The Saitama Seibu Lions announced they reached an agreement with P Andy Van Hekken from the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization League). He had an option to opt out, according to @MyKBO, forcing his KBO team to sell him rather than lose him for nothing.
Van Hekken, 36, was a starting pitcher for the Nexen Heroes in the KBO from 2012-2015. His best year came in 2014, where he went 20-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.316 WHIP.
In four seasons as a starter with Nexen, he went 58-32 with a 3.54 ERA. Last season in 2015, he had 193 strikeouts. He was also teammates with Byung-Ho Park, who recently was posted and the Minnesota Twins won the bid for him.
From 2003-2011, he bounced around four different MLB organizations while only being the minors at AA and AAA. He has five game of MLB experience as a September callup with the Detroit Tigers in 2002. He went 1-3 with a .300 ERA in the major leagues.
This signing takes Wade LeBlanc's spot on the roster as room for a starting pitcher. Last year, several Lions pitchers ran out of gas at the end and saw only innings in the bullpen. Van Hekken reached a career high 196.2 innings pitched, which is the most at any level of baseball he played.
Van Hekken will compete with Ken Togame, Kazuhisa Makita, Ryoma Nogami, and Chun-Lin "Kaku" Kuo for a spot in the Lions rotation. Kuo, C.C. Lee, Esmerling Vasquez, Ernesto Mejia and now Van Hekken are the foreign players under contract with the Lions.
Here is a highlight reel of his 20-win 2014 season.
-OF Shogo Akiyama, C Ginjiro Sumitani and 3B Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura were named as the Pacific League's "Best IX" for their respective positions. Okawari-kun beat out Nobuhiro Matsuda of the Softbank Hawks for the award. Sumitani and Akiyama also received golden gloves for catcher and outfielder, respectively.
-The Lions also reached an agreement with Takayuki Kishi for 2016. He will make an estimated $1.8 million in the second of his three-year deal.
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