Alumni Update: Marte, Feierabend “bank” on Korea, Dbacks may DePend on DePaula
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), which is the top circuit in South Korea, has begun to challenge Nippon Professional Baseball (the Japanese Major Leagues) for top talent in that part of the world. Many Major League veterans have a history of playing in Japan once their earning potential in that country exceeds what it would be playing in Triple-A hoping for an MLB call-up. With the KBO expanding their reach, they have begun offering lucrative contracts to North American-born players rivaling that of Japan.
In November, former Revolution third baseman Andy Marte (’13) inked a deal with KT Wiz of the KBO, a one-year contract which will pay him $1 million. It’s been a very good year for Marte; after being called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 of last season, he homered off Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke in his first MLB at-bat since 2010 with Cleveland. In 126 games with Triple-A Reno, he guided that club to the Pacific Coast League playoffs hitting .329 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI.
In 2013, Marte hit .301 in 96 games with York (19 HR, 74 RBI) before his contract was purchased by the Angels. He finished that year hitting .362 with Triple-A Salt Lake in 26 games (6 HR, 18 RBI), before signing with Arizona as a free agent, the springboard to his four-year MLB comeback.
Former Revolution lefty Ryan Feierabend (’12) followed suit, agreeing to a contract with the Nexen Heroes of the KBO for $270,000 in salary. His deal included a $30,000 signing bonus, and he has $80,000 worth of performance incentives available to him this season. Feierabend, who made 17 starts for York in 2012 while establishing the franchise ERA mark for a single-season (2.71), appeared in six games out of the Texas Rangers bullpen in 2014, after signing with Texas prior to the 2013 season. His call-up from Triple-A Round Rock completed a six-year Major League comeback, after Feierabend made 25 appearances and 19 starts for Seattle between 2006 and 2008.
While Feierabend was up with the Rangers, “War of The Roses” history was made in their clubhouse. At the time, Texas also had righty Jerome Williams in the Majors, who was Lancaster’s top starter during the first half of the 2011 season. Williams would end the season with the Phillies, where he remains in their starting rotation this season, but the brief overlap in Arlington marked the first time a former Rev and a former Barnstormer were on the same MLB club.
Even more remarkable than the four and six-year MLB comebacks authored by Marte and Feierabend, was Julio DePaula’s journey from the Revolution roster to the Baltimore Orioles in just 11 days last season. Easily a record for the swiftest ascent to a Major League roster after playing in York, DePaula (Revs ’13-’14) was called up to the Orioles on July 7 for their game in Washington after just three appearances and a save at Double-A Bowie, after the O’s purchased his contract from the Revolution on June 26. Unfortunately, DePaula did not get into the game before being re-assigned to Bowie for the remainder of the season.
This offseason, he elected to sign with the Diamondbacks as a free agent, and has been assigned to Triple-A Reno out of spring training. Being the proverbial one phone call away from the Majors again, DePaula will look to make his MLB comeback official this season. Appearing on the Orioles roster last season, he technically completed a rather jaw-dropping seven-year big league comeback, his only prior MLB time being 16 games out of the Twins bullpen in 2007. Certainly it would mean a little more however, if he’s able to get into a game with Arizona this season and truly be all the way back.