St. Louis Cardinals Sign RHP Aaron Brooks to Minor League Contract
The St. Louis Cardinals announced they have signed RHP Aaron Brooks to a minor league contract for the 2022 season with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
The 31-year old righty spent the past two seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) pitching for the Kia Tigers. He went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA and accumulated 185 strikeouts in 36 starts.
Originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the ninth round of the 2011 MLB draft, Brooks spent time in the minor leagues before making his MLB debut on May 3, 2014. He only tallied 7 innings in his 4 games played for K.C. from 2014-2015.
He was however named the Northeast Arkansas Pitcher of the Year in 2013 and Omaha Pitcher of the Year for 2014 going 12-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 23 starts.
In July of 2015, Brooks was traded along with LHP Sean Manaea to the Oakland Athletics in a deal that brought Ben Zobrist to the Royals.
In February of 2016, Oakland traded Brooks to the Chicago Cubs for Chris Coghlan. He missed most of that season due to a hip contusion, only pitching in the minors and was designated for assignment never pitching for the big league club.
The Milwaukee Brewers then took a flier on Brooks claiming him off of waivers but again never saw MLB action and pitched only for their PCL Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
In September of 2018, the Oakland A’s re-acquired Brooks for cash considerations and only pitched 2 innings to finish the season. He did enter the 2019 Spring Training competing for a roster spot. Due to injuries, he was able to do that starting 6 games (50.1 innings) with a 5.01 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
But once again, Brooks was designated for assignment and this time picked up by the Baltimore Orioles a week later. For Baltimore, he finished the 2019 season having pitched 59.2 innings over 12 starts to a 6.18 ERA with only 39 strikeouts and 20 walks. This was Aaron’s last season pitching in the majors as he was released and ultimately went on to sign with Kia Tigers of the KBO hoping to rejuvenate his career.
In 23 starts for the Tigers, Brooks went 11-4 with a 2.50 ERA and 130 strikeouts during the 2020 season. His family was involved in a car accident in Kansas City with his son seriously hurt in the crash, and wife & daughter suffering relatively minor injuries, so his season was cut short and with the club’s support was allowed to travel back to the states to be with his family.
He then re-signed with the club for $1M with a $200K signing bonus to pitch in 2021. In 13 starts he went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 78 innings pitched, but was released in August after Korean Customs Service contacted the club informing them of traces of marijuana that were found in a vape pen that he had ordered online.
According to Korea JoongAng Daily (in association with the New York Times), Brooks apologized for the incident, and cited that he was not aware the product contained any drug and that he was familiar with Korea’s marijuana laws.
With the MLB lockout still in effect, clubs can only acquire players on minor league contracts, and this move is likely a depth move for the organization and an opportunity to give Brooks a chance to break camp if he impresses during Spring Training. He had a 4.4% walk rate and 78.4% ground-ball rate while in Korea, both of which would be appealing to the Cardinals with their defense and pitcher friendly park Busch Stadium.
In his two seasons in the KBO, Brooks had a 2.79 ERA in 229 1/3 innings and in his four seasons in MLB, has an ERA of 6.49 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 170 2/3 innings.