With the absence of Major League Baseball due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ESPN has filled the void by broadcasting the Korean Baseball Championship, or KBO League.
You might notice some familiar names on the teams because 13 former NCAA college baseball student-athletes are members of six of the 10 KBO teams.
Here's how you can watch the games and more on players with an NCAA connection.
How to watch: KBO TV schedule
The KBO schedule includes 144 regular-season games. All 10 teams face each other 16 times. ESPN2 is airing seven KBO broadcasts per week. Here's the stream.
The games air as follows:
Tuesdays-Fridays: 5:30 a.m. ET
Saturdays: 4 a.m. ET
Sundays: 1 a.m. ET
Former NCAA players in the KBO
Here's where each former college ballplayer went to school and the KBO teams of which they're currently on the roster:
|Aaron Brooks||Cal State San Bernardino||Kia Tigers|
|Drew Gagnon||Long Beach State||Kia Tigers|
|Preston Tucker||Florida||Kia Tigers|
|David Buchanan||Georgia State||Samsung Lions|
|Ben Lively||UCF||Samsung Lions|
|Tyler Saladino||Oral Roberts||Samsung Lions|
|Drew Rucinski||Oklahoma State||NC Dinos|
|Dennis “Mike” Wright||East Carolina||NC Dinos|
|Eric Jokisch||Northwestern||Kiwoom Heroes|
|Taylor Motter||Coastal Carolina||Kiwoom Heroes|
|Jared Hoying||Toledo||Hanwha Eagles|
|Tyler Wilson||Virginia||LG Twins|
|Dan Straily||Marshall||Lotte Giants|
P, Aaron Brooks | Cal State San Bernardino
Aaron Brooks, the only former Division II player in the KBO league, made his talent known early. He won the California College Athletic Association Freshman of the Year award after a 2-3 record. He earned second-team All-CCAA honors his sophomore year, going 6-2 with a 4.43 ERA. Brooks also threw three complete games in his career at Cal State San Bernardino.
25-INNINGS: The longest games in DI college baseball history
The Kansas City Royals drafted Brooks in 2011, and he made his major league debut on May 3, 2014. He signed with the Kia Tigers in 2019 after stints with four different MLB teams.
P, Drew Gagnon | Long Beach State
Drew Gagnon became was fixture on the Long Beach State baseball team in 2009. He became the Sunday starter as a true freshman and was second on the team in strikeouts (44). Gagnon earned the Friday night starter role as a sophomore and ended the 2010 season with a team-high 3.28 ERA and 93.1 innings pitched.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected Gagnon in the third round of the 2011 MLB draft. After a cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Angels, Gagnon made his major league debut with the New York Mets on July 10, 2018. Last year, he signed a one-year deal with the Kia Tigers.
OF, Preston Tucker | Florida
Preston Tucker finished his career at Florida with major program records. His 1,035 at-bats, 341 hits, 258 RBI, 70 doubles and 596 total bases rank first in school history, and his 57 home runs are second. Completing his college career with a .329 average, Tucker remains the only player in school history to earn Regional All-Tournament honors all four years.
The Houston Astros drafted Tucker in the seventh round in 2012; he debuted with the big club on May 7, 2015. Time with the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox led him to sign with the Kia Tigers on May 17, 2019. He re-signed for 2020 soon after.
P, David Buchanan | Georgia State
David Buchanan pitched 38.1 innings and struck out 43 opponents during his sophomore year at Chipola Junior College in Florida. The New York Mets drafted Buchanan in the sixth round (194th overall) of the 2009 MLB draft, but he decided to stay committed to the DI route. At Georgia State, he earned Colonial Athletic Pitcher of the Week honors and compiled a 4-2 record, striking out 53 in 55.1 innings, before a finger injury concluded his junior and, ultimately, college career.
Buchanan's time at the DI level was short but long enough for the Philadelphia Phillies to draft him in the seventh round (231st overall) of the 2010 MLB draft. He made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 24, 2014, in replacement of an injured Cliff Lee. Six years later, he signed a one-year deal with the Samsung Lions.
P, Ben Lively | UCF
A three-year span of achievements ranks Ben Lively in UCF's baseball record books. He delivered the school's fourth-lowest ERA (3.06) and is seventh all-time with 21 wins and 226 career strikeouts. In 2013, his junior season, Lively became the first pitcher since Tim Bascom (2005) to strike out more than 100 batters in a season.
The Cincinnati Reds selected Lively in the fourth round in 2013. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014 and made his Major League debut on June 3, 2017, against the San Francisco Giants. He earned the win that day. After time with the Kansas City Royals and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Lively signed with the Samsung Lions in 2019 and re-signed with the team for 2020.
INF, Tyler Saladino | Oral Roberts
Tyler Saladino began his college career at Palomar Community College in California. The Houston Astros selected him in the 36th round of the 2009 MLB draft. Instead of immediately joining the pros after his sophomore year, Saladino accepted a scholarship at Oral Roberts where he excelled immediately. He started every game in 2010 at shortstop, hitting .379 and 16 doubles while also stealing 16 bases through 63 games. Saladino was the 2010 Summit League Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year and was selected to the First-Team All-Summit League and First-Team ABCA All-Midwest Region.
The Chicago White Sox drafted him soon after, making his major league debut on July 10, 2015. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 and signed with the Samsung Lions last year.
TYLER SALADINO TATER WITH THE RING AROUND THE ROSEY CHEERLEADER CELEBRATION pic.twitter.com/tgdBHW64i3— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) May 8, 2020
P, Drew Rucinski | Ohio State
Drew Rucinski delivered during his senior season in 2011. As the Buckeyes' Friday night starter, he went 5-3 with a 2.95 ERA (fifth-best ERA in the Big Ten) and 53 strikeouts. He topped off his four-year letter-winning career with second team All-Big Ten honors .
The Cleveland Indians signed Rucinski as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He debut in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels on July 10, 2014. Time with the Minnesota Twins and the Miami Marlins turned into a deal with the NC Dinos in 2018, where he remains today.
P, Dennis "Mike" Wright | East Carolina
Mike Wright's ERA in college differed greatly from his performances in the summer leagues. His sub-4 and sub-3 ERAs with in the Coast Plain League and Cape Cod League, respectively, revitalized his 7.66 ERA as a freshman in 2009 and 6.94 ERA as a sophomore and junior and turned him into a strong, professional prospect.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Wright in the third round of the 2011 MLB draft. On May 17, 2015, Wright made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Angels, whiffing reigning AL MVP Mike Trout for his first MLB strikeout. Wright was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2019 but elected to sign with the NC Dinos in November.
P, Eric Jokisch | Northwestern
Eric Jokisch began his career at Northwestern in 2008 as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. Jokisch was named first-team All-Big Ten after pitching 92.1 innings with a 4.39 ERA and 62 strikeouts as a junior. He went 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA in conference play that year.
The Chicago Cubs selected Jokisch in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB draft, and he debuted with the major league club on Sept. 7, 2014. Stints with the Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics led Jokisch to the Kiwoom Heroes in 2018.
INF, Taylor Motter | Coastal Carolina
Taylor Motter appeared in 187 games at Coastal Carolina, hitting .303, 18 home runs, 110 RBI and .482 slugging percentage. He helped lead the Chanticleers to three consecutive Big South Conference championships and three NCAA regional appearances.
The Tampa Bay Rays selected Motter in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft, and on May 16, 2016, he made his MLB debut. After time with four different major league teams and one Atlantic League club, Motter signed with the Kiwoom Heroes in December.
OF, Jared Hoying | Toledo
In high school, Jared Hoying lettered all four years in baseball and basketball. With time at DH and shortstop, the now-outfielder hit .284 with 46 doubles, 7 triples, 34 home runs and 137 RBI in his three-year career at Toledo.
The Texas Rangers took Hoying in the 10 round of the 2010 MLB draft. Six years later, he made his major league debut on May 23, 2016. After a stint with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, Hoying signed with the Hanwha Eagles on Nov. 21, 2017. He's excelled in South Korea since, hitting .294 with 74 doubles, 49 homers and 188 RBI.
P, Tyler Wilson | Virginia
Tyler Wilson spent all four years of college at Virginia, where he currently ranks second in school history in career wins (27) and fourth in schools history in strikeouts (267). His sub-3 ERA helped the Cavaliers claim the No. 1 overall seed in 2011 and advance to the College World Series. He won the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which is given to the most outstanding senior student athlete in DI baseball.
The Baltimore Orioles drafted Wilson in the 10th round, debuting with the big club on May 20, 2015. He elected free agency in 2017 and signed with the LG Twins in 2018, where he remains today.
ICYMI: Very early this morning, baseball returned to ESPN with a game between the LG Twins and Doosan Bears of the KBO. Our own @ShineTime50 was a special guest on the broadcast. Her husband @t_willy18 is a member of the Twins. 👀 full game on 💻 WatchESPN pic.twitter.com/nfd5Ji1w2x— Virginia Women's Basketball (@UVAWomensHoops) May 6, 2020
P, Dan Straily | Marshall
Dan Straily transferred to Marshall after attending Western Oregon his freshman year. He made 28 starts and earned a 9-7 record while at Marshall and made the C-USA All-Tournament team as a sophomore in 2008. And in 2009, Straily once struck out 23 over a 20-inning period.
Shortly after, the Oakland Athletics drafted him in 24th round. He made his Major League debut on Aug. 3, 2012. Stops with seven different MLB teams led him to sign with the Lotte Giants in 2019.
What a start from Dan Straily of the Lotte Giants.— Connor Newcomb (@ConnorNewcomb_) May 10, 2020
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 11 K, 0 BB
He was electric today. Here's all 11 strikeouts for the former MLBer. pic.twitter.com/ZvM7esALFJ