After a successful three-year stint in Korea, former San Francisco Giant Brett Pill is returning to the United States on a minor league pact with Detroit.
Former San Francisco Giants’ first baseman and left fielder Brett Pill is returning to the United States. After spending three highly successful seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization with the Kia Tigers, Pill is joining the Detroit Tigers on a minor league contract. The Tigers announced his deal, along with 21 others, on Tuesday.
Pill began his major league career with a bang. The former seventh-round pick made his major league debut for the Giants on September 6th, 2011, and cranked a two-run home run in his first plate appearance against Wade LeBlanc. He became the first Giant rookie since Will Clark in 1986 to hit a home run in his first at-bat.
He followed that up the very next day with his second home run, hitting a solo blast off Aaron Harang. Pill is one of two players in the very exclusive club of Giants to hit home runs in each of their first two games, joined by John Bowker in 2008.
He enjoyed success in limited time that year, hitting .300/.321/.560 with nine RBI in 15 games. Over the next two years, he split time as part of a first base platoon, but could never replicate that early success. In 96 games between 2012 and 2013, he hit .216/.268/.363 with seven home runs, and began to lose more and more playing time as Brandon Belt continued to established himself as the everyday first baseman of the future.
Before the 2014 season, Pill was released by the Giants so he could go overseas, signing a deal with the Kia Tigers. Pill was able to tap into his potential in the hitter-friendly environment.
Receiving regular playing time with the Tigers, Pill was outstanding. He hit .309/.354/.542 with 27 doubles, 19 home runs, 66 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases in 2014, his first year in Korea. 2015 was an even better year, as he slashed .325/.378/.517 and led the team with 35 doubles and 101 RBI. He added 22 home runs and 14 stolen bases, both season-highs for his time in Korea.
In 2016, he continued to impress with a .313/.361/.511 slash-line and a team-leading 37 doubles. He also hit 20 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and stole 10 more bags.
With the Detroit Tigers’ organization, the 32-year-old Pill will likely serve as depth at first base, probably playing mostly at Triple-A. If injuries arise, Pill could fill in for a short time either at first base or in left field.
Three other former Giants were also named in that press release, all three of which had been previously announced. Pill is joined by right-handed pitcher Waldis Joaquin (with San Francisco from 2009 to 2011), left-handed Travis Blackley (2007 and 2012), and outfielder Juan Perez (2013 to 2015).
Coincidentally, the Tigers signed Nate Schierholtz last offseason. Schierholtz was a former Giant that was returning to the United States after spending time overseas. He spent the 2015 season with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball.