Cards sign righty Brooks out of South Korea

31-year-old with good command joins organization on Minor League deal

January 31st, 2022

As the Cardinals remade their bullpen and starting rotation on the fly last season, chief among the qualities they looked for in pitchers was an ability to avoid the walk. That’s an aspect that continues to be front and center in adding to the organization ahead of 2022.

The club on Monday announced the signing of right-hander Aaron Brooks to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. The 31-year-old spent the past two seasons revitalizing his career in South Korea, pitching to a 2.79 ERA across 36 starts, after last appearing in the Majors for the Orioles and A’s in 2019. Most appealing? He features a robust 1.8 walks per nine innings across his 11-year pro career (including Minors and foreign play).

In 2021, the Cardinals led baseball with a 10.1 percent walk rate and a record 29 free passes with the bases loaded.

Brooks pitched exclusively as a starter in Korea, where he walked just 40 batters in 229 1/3 innings as a member of the Kia Tigers. That’s been consistent across his career; even with a 5.65 ERA in 29 games (18 starts) for Baltimore and Oakland in 2019, Brooks conceded just 21 free passes in 110 innings.

Selected by the Royals in the ninth round of the 2011 Draft, Brooks adds to a crop of arms looking to compete for a role in 2022. But aiding his candidacy for the big league roster is his ability to serve as a swingman. Though Brooks made only 18 starts of his 29 appearances in 2019, all but just two of his relief outings were of multiple innings. He can also follow an opener, throwing seven innings of one-run ball behind a reliever in his best outing as an Oriole, a 5-3 win on Sept. 20.