SF Giants: Veteran minor leaguer signs with Kia Tigers of the KBO

Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants
Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

In a mildly odd twist, veteran minor league pitcher Ronnie Williams has agreed to a contract for 2022 with the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The twist comes from the fact that the SF Giants had re-signed the right-handed hurler earlier in the offseason, but evidently, he had an opt-out clause that enabled him to pursue other opportunities.

SF Giants: Veteran minor leaguer signs with Kia Tigers of the KBO

The Kia Tigers also announced that they had agreed to terms with veteran outfielder Socrates Brito, who had a three-year stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks not long ago. Williams was originally drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals out of American Senior High School in Hialeah, Florida.

He spent his first six seasons in the Cardinals organization before coming over to the Giants in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The 26-year-old pitching prospect started the 2021 year in Double-A where he registered a 2.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and a 2.18 SO/W ratio in 24 appearances.

Williams earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A, which was really good timing because of the depleted state of the Sacramento River Cats rotation as the season drew to a close. With the River Cats, he made six appearances, posting a 4.02 ERA with eight strikeouts against eight walks in 15.2 frames.

Furthermore, the veteran hurler excelled at inducing weak contact given that he generated a ground ball in 45.6 percent of batted ball events in 2021. Williams reached Triple-A for the first time in his seven seasons as a pro and he showed promise.

The Giants rewarded him with a deal for 2022 with a camp invite, but the opportunity with the Kia Tigers was too good to pass up. The Tigers posted a rough 58-75 record last season, finishing in ninth place out of 10 teams.

The 2021 team did feature a handful of players with major league experience including outfielder Preston Tucker and a pair of pitchers in Aaron Brooks and Daniel Mengden. That said, the Tigers had the second-worst ERA (4.89 ERA) in the KBO, so there is plenty of room for improvement. The hope is that the Williams addition can help anchor a rotation that really needs an extra jolt.