Pro Baseball Abroad with Cory Riordan
When it comes to playing internationally, Cory Riordan is a gold mine due to his experience playing professional baseball in Asia, South America (Venezuela), and the Caribbean (Dominican Republic). But, among this list, his professional career stood out the most in the Asian countries, Korea and Taiwan.
At the age of 21, Riordan was drafted by the Colorado Rockies where he spent 7 years playing. Eventually, he got a call in early December of 2014 from the LG Twins, a Korean team based in Seoul and he didn’t think twice and got the offer.
“It was a no brainer for me because, at that time, the money situation was really good with the Korean opportunity,” Cory said in the 35th episode of The Globally Ballin Podcast.
He went the extra mile when it came to his researching about the situation and learned that it was one of the top 2 sports in the country (the other of these two being golf). In addition, he discovered that there were only 9 teams in a league wherein they are allowed to have 3 foreigners per team.
The LG Twins ended in 3rd that year, and while he was not renewed for a second season, Riordan admitted to having a great time.
“I felt extremely lucky and blessed [to be] one of the 18 pitchers who gets the opportunity to play professionally in Korea and Korean baseball is a very high-level baseball,” he said.
He went back to the US to play for the Bridgeport Bluefish in Connecticut in the Atlantic League. It during this time that he got an offer to play for the Lamigo Monkeys in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan.
Right before flying to Taiwan, he discovered that he needed to renew his passport. So, they drove around 400 miles to get to the only agency that could process a rushed appointment.
His experience with the Lamigo Monkeys was another splendid experience. But, for Cory, Taiwanese baseball was a little different than Korean; while the CPBL had a lot of good hitters, the league still needed to develop better pitching.
“It’s just two different styles of baseball – hitting is phenomenal in Taiwan, defense is not very good, and pitching is just so-so, they’re just much more laid back but I do believe they have more skilled top to bottom hitters,” he said.
“I [also] didn’t adjust very well. Culture-wise, I love the guys and the people on the team but, baseball-wise, I just couldn’t get the grasp of it for some reasons,” he added.
After 2 months of playing in Taiwan, he went back home to play for an independent league in Bridgeport Connecticut. While not playing in Asia or independent ball in Connecticut, Riordan played in both Venezuela for Leones del Caracas and in the Dominican Republic for Gigantes del Cibao for winter ball.
Soon after, he went back for his last stint in Taiwan and played for another 4 months where he had a much better experience than his first season.
“I was competing better, I was enjoying myself more and really just trying to do better through different means and trying to adjust,” he said.
Generally, Cory found both Asian countries the safest among all countries he has lived by noting that he could walk at 3 am feeling confidently safe with no signs of drugs or violence and absolutely no crimes in the neighborhood.
To conclude, Cory Riordan has played a lot in his baseball career and the sport has been embedded in him so much that all he wanted was to keep his professional career on track. Riordan started his professional career when he was 21 years old and ended when he was 33 and he is currently a baseball coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.