Joseph “Jo-Jo” Reyes # 37
Position: Starting Pitcher (LHP)
Birth: November 20, 1984, West Covina, California, USA
Weight: 230 lbs
With the departure of Mario Santiago and Dave Bush a new pair of foreign born players join the SK roster this year. The more notable of the two is former major leaguer Jo-jo Reyes.
Reyes inexplicably pitched in the major league with 3 different teams, each with the misguided hope he could contribute as a 5th starter (the worst one).
He began his career with a ton of promise being selected out of Riverside Polytechnic High School in the 2nd round of the 2003 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves. Aside from a few injury plagued years in the minors Jo-jo worked his way up and was at one point considered to be the Braves best minor league pitcher.
Unfortunately for the Braves, and later the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, Jo-jo was awful at the MLB level. With a career record of 12-26 and a 6.05 ERA Jo-jo’s once bright future in baseball has dimmed considerably. He heads to Korea this year to make some money and avoid the mediocre pay and soul sucking bus rides of baseball’s minor leagues.
While unsuccessful at sticking around in the big leagues, Jo-jo did manage to get his name in the record books as a member of the Blue jays on May 25, 2011, when he lost to the New York Yankees. It was his 28th consecutive start without earning a win, tying the Major League record set by Cliff Curtis (1910–11) and Matt Keough (1978–79).
Blue Jays fans like myself will remember Reyes as the man who was given countless chances to succeed but consistently failed. He even failed to break the record by winning his next start throwing a complete game victory against the Choo Shin-soo led Cleveland Indians.
The silver lining for SK fans hoping for big things from Jo-jo is that despite his undisputed track record of complete failure, top baseball talent evaluators continued to see some sort of potential in the young left hander. Jo-jo would show flashes of brilliance… or at least competence during his longer than expected major league career. Just when you thought he was absolutely hopeless he would string together a few decent innings and make you think: “maybe this guy isn’t as terrible as everyone thinks he is…”
On the strength of that sentiment, Jo-jo joins SK this spring with a hope for a fresh start in Korea. Jo-jo is like a lot of people I see coming from America… the job market back home isn’t great for left-handed pitchers who don’t win baseball games or politics majors who don’t get law degrees… But here in Korea you don’t need to have the greatest career track record, you just have to not embarrass yourself when you get here and you’ll be surprisingly well compensated for it!
So here’s to hoping that Jo-jo doesn’t embarrass himself with SK because at 29 years old, this might finally be his last shot.
Bonus link!: Clint Hulsey of “I R Fast” did an interesting study correlating KBO pitchers’ average fastball velocity and how well they pitched. It’s probably a bit numbery for some and I find it a bit simplistic, but he put a decent amount of work into it and apparently Jo-jo ranks 13th among KBO pitchers with a 90.3 MPH average fastball. Cool.