Global Baseball Recap (4/22-4/28)

From South Korea, to Mexico, to Brazil, to Italy!

Baseball is global! The international side of baseball was on fire last week. Here are the top storylines from around the world of baseball (4/22-4/28).


Jeong Choi, Your New KBO Home Run King


Born: Incheon, South Korea
League/Level: KBO

468! In his 20th KBO season, Choi has passed Korean baseball legend Seung-yuop Lee in career home runs, becoming the sole owner of the title KBO Home Run King. Choi has had a remarkable career and has been one of the world’s best baseball players even if most MLB fans have never heard his name.

Choi has spent his entire 20-season career with the same team, the SSG Landers (previously named the SK Wyverns). Along with his home run record, he is also the world’s hit-by-pitch king: MLB’s career leaders are Hughie Jennings (287) and Craig Biggio (285), and NPB’s is Kazuhiro Kiyohara (196). Choi has 331 and counting.

I mentioned in last week’s recap that Choi had quite an eventful week before breaking the record, but now healthy, he will set his sights on becoming the first KBO player to ever hit 500 home runs.

Fun fact: The baseball legend who Choi passed, Seung-yuop Lee, also hit 159 home runs in NPB to go along with his 467 KBO home runs, totaling 646 in his professional career., the most by a Korean player in history, and 3rd most by any Asian player after Japanese players Sadaharu Oh (868) and Katsuya Nomura (657).


MLB World Tour: Mexico City Series


League/Level: MLB

The Vinny Castilla Series!

While neither of these teams has really been good… at all… this year, the latest stop on MLB’s World Tour was still an absolute blast (more so for the Astros than the Rockies).

Ever since Mexico’s magical run in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, baseball has been exploding in popularity in Mexico. This series between the Astros and Rockies sold out almost immediately.

MLB teams have faced off in Mexico 6 times previously, the first being in 1996. This was the second time both of these teams had visited Mexico to play. The Rockies played the Padres in 1999, and the Astros played the Angels in 2019.

As expected from the sky-high Estadio Alfredo Harp Helรบ (7,349 feet elevation, over 2,000 feet higher than Coors Field in Denver), baseballs were launched and ERA’s were inflated.

7 total homers were hit between the 2 games, 6 of which were hit by Astros players. In Game 1 of the series, Yordan Alvarez hit two moonshots, both of which flew 461 feet, becoming only the 2nd player under Statcast to hit two 460+ ft homers in one game. Sunday’s game two had a couple of tape measure shots as well, but a big performance from Framber Valdez in his return from injury was the most encouraging part of the day, as he only allowed 2 ER and struck out 6 over 5.0 IP. His perennial league-best ground ball rate is the best weapon a pitcher can have at 7,300+ feet elevation.

The Mexico City Series is always a special one. Next up on MLB’s World Tour: The London Series!


Cubs Sign Brazilian Pitcher Making His Comeback


Born: Fujinomiya, Japan
League/Level: MILB

This may be my favorite story from the week. 28-year-old Japanese-Brazilian pitcher Daniel Missaki was just signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs. He has spent the last decade enduring injuries and setbacks, but his determination is truly paying off. Here is a summary of his story:

In 2013, Missaki pitched for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic at just 16 years old. MLB scouts took notice and he signed a minor league contract with the Mariners soon after. In 2015, he was traded to the Brewers alongside Freddy Peralta for Adam Lind, but then underwent Tommy John surgery. 2 years later… another TJ. Brutal. 3 years after that, he decided to head to Japan where he briefly played in the independent Baseball Challenge League until the Yomiuri Giants signed him to a developmental contract, where he spent 2 seasons.

In 2023 he returned to the western hemisphere and played all over the Americas: he helped the Brazilian national team win silver at the Pan American Games in Chile, played in the Venezuela Summer League, returned to play back home in the Brazilian league, and finished the year in the Colombian Winter League. This year, he signed with Diablos Rojos del Mexico but only logged 6 relief innings before MLB organizations came knocking once again.

After ALL his waiting, he finally received a contract back in affiliated ball. I’m so happy for him, and I can’t wait to see how he and his story continue to develop.


Leo De Vries’ Professional Debut


Born: Azua, Dominican Republic
League/Level: Single-A

If you keep a close eye on MLB prospects, you have no doubt heard 17-year-old Leodalis De Vries‘ name already. Even if you’re just on baseball Twitter/X, he has probably come across your feed before ever stepping foot on a professional baseball diamond.

And rightfully so! De Vries was the #1 ranked international amateur prospect in the 2023 class. The Padres somehow worked their scouting magic again, securing back-to-back #1 international prospects.

After seeing the way the Padres sent Ethan Salas flying through the minors in his first MiLB season, and with all the hype De Vries is receiving, many people expected the switch-hitting SS to be fast-tracked as well. And that’s exactly what happened. Just like Salas, De Vries completely skipped over the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Complex League and was assigned straight to Single-A last week.

He hit the ground running, too. While he went 0-for-4 in his professional debut, he logged 4 hits, 4 RBI, 2 BB, and 1 SB between the two following games.

With Salas born in June and De Vries in October, 2006 is shaping up to be a very important year for the Padres.


Samuel Aldegheri’s 0.00 ERA


Born: Verona, Italy
League/Level: High-A

There have been 7 Italian-born players in MLB history. Only 1 of the 7 (former Mariners 3B Alex Liddi) was raised and developed in Italy, while the other 6 all immigrated to the US with their families as young children. Even with Italy’s rich baseball history, both with Italian-Americans in MLB and Italy’s own professional baseball league (Serie A), somehow we have never seen an Italian-born-and-raised pitcher in Major League Baseball.

There is a very good chance Samuel Aldegheri will be the first.

Aldegheri is a 22-year-old LHP in the Phillies organization from Verona, Italy. At just 17 years old, Aldgheri signed a deal with Philadelphia for $210,000 in July 2019. He briefly pitched in Italy’s Serie A in 2019 and 2020. Since there was no Minor League Baseball in 2020, he didn’t join the organization until 2021. Injury held him out most of 2022, but he logged 83.2 IP across Low-A and High-A in 2023 while getting his feet wet in affiliated ball.

This season, he has started STRONG. Through 3 starts, he has a 0.00 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, 21 K, and 4 BB across 15.1 innings.

His latest start last week was the best of his season so far: 5IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10(!) K. That’s some good stuff. Forza Italia!


Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@kurtwasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Shawn Spradling

Shawn Spradling is an International Baseball writer and content creator who specializes in World Baseball Classic coverage. His content looks at baseball through an international lens, and he loves to bring exposure to the growth and culture of the sport all across the globe. He is from Austin, TX, but is currently living in Dallas. He loves to travel, meet people and try food from different countries. Outside of baseball, he is an all-around sports fan who loves football, soccer, and F1. He loves music, Marvel movies, and is a big foodie.

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