Two former Phillies stood out in KBO action Wednesday, and the sweetness of Aaron Altherr's swing is already making the rounds after his first home run in Korea.
Aaron Altherr launches his first KBO dinger. Moonshot to left field. Then he comes into the dugout, gets the silent treatment so just starts dabbing alone. pic.twitter.com/e3ievdY7wt— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) May 6, 2020
That home run came against Altherr's former teammate, Ben Lively.
Altherr's size, athleticism, raw power and smoothness always teased the Phillies and their fans. He looked like a potential star in the making, or at least a regular outfielder.
Beyond looking the part, Altherr had a strong season in 2017, hitting .272/.340/.516 with 19 homers and 65 RBI in 412 plate appearances. That season made the Phils believe they could have a 25-to-30-homer outfielder on their hands who was just entering his prime.
The following season was nightmarish for the 6-5 righty. He opened 2018 as the Phillies' starting rightfielder but began 4 for 44 and things never really turned around. He was hitting .171 through 248 plate appearances when the Phillies sent him down to Triple A in July. From there, he wasn't able to regain a meaningful role for a big-league club.
Altherr signed with the KBO's NC Dinos in November for a reported $800,000 salary with a $200,000 signing bonus. Good money and a good opportunity against lesser competition. Some in the baseball world regard the level of competition in Korea as being similar to the lower levels of the minor leagues here.
Altherr, who has batted second and started in center field in each of his team's games, was given the silent treatment after that long home run. It came against Lively, who allowed four runs over six innings to lose his KBO debut.
Former Phillies reliever Ricardo Pinto, who had a 7.89 ERA in 25 appearances with the 2017 Phils, had a more impressive season debut. He had a no-hitter through five innings for those pesky SK Wyverns and ultimately picked up the win with 6⅔ innings of one-run ball.