Pro Ball Grand Slam: Top Four Baseball Leagues

When looking at the salary data, there are four major professional baseball leagues in the world. Those top four baseball leagues are the MLB (USA), NPB (Japan), KBO (Korea) and the CPBL (Taiwan).

Since the Asian leagues tend to offer a higher salary than the minor leagues, independent leagues and various winter leagues, therefore, it is not rare to see foreign players from the MLB system playing professional baseball in Asia.

With Taiwan, Japan and Korea are pretty close to one another. It is very common to see foreign players with multiple Asian leagues experience on their resume.

But how many players out there have had experiences playing in all four major professional baseball leagues in the world? Based on our research, there are 19 players have achieved that in their professional career.

*Note: We used the tennis term “Grand Slam” in this blog post, it refers to the achievement of winning all four major championships (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open).


Jose Nunez / 王漢 / ホセ・ヌーニェス / 누네스

  • MLB: 1987-1990 (Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs)
  • CPBL: 1993-1995 (Uni-Lions)
  • NPB: 1996-1997 (SoftBank Hawks)
  • TML: 1998 (Taichung AGAN)
  • KBO: 2001 (Hanwha Eagles)
  • Photos Credit: UDN

Luis Santos / 路易士 / ルイス・デロスサントス /산토스

  • MLB: 1988-1989, 1991 (Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers)
  • CPBL: 1994, 1995, 1996 (Brother Elephants)
  • NPB: 1997 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • TML: 1998, 1999 (Kaoping FALA)
  • KBO: 2001 (KIA Tigers)

Balvino Galvez / 巴比諾 / バルビーノ・ガルベス / 갈베스

  • MLB: 1986 (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • CPBL: 1994-1995 (Brother Elephants)
  • NPB: 1996-2000 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • KBO: 2001 (Samsung Lions)

Ben Rivera / 班尼/ 李維拉 / ベン・リベラ / 리베라

  • MLB: 1992-1994 (Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies)
  • CPBL: 1997 (Koos Group Whales)
  • NPB: 1998-1999 (Hanshin Tigers)
  • KBO: 2001 (Samsung Lions)
  • CPBL: 2004 (Macoto Cobras)

Jose Parra / 保樂 / ホセ・パーラ / 파라

  • MLB: 1995-1996 (Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins)
  • KBO: 1998 (Samsung Lions)
  • NPB: 1999 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • MLB: 2000 (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • CPBL: 2001 (Uni-Lions)
  • MLB: 2002 (Arizona Diamondbacks)
  • CPBL: 2003 (Uni-Lions)
  • MLB: 2004 (New York Mets)
  • NPB: 2005 (Orix Buffaloes)

Rudy Pemberton / 柏頓 / ルディ・ペンバートン / 펨버튼

  • MLB: 1995-1997 (Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox)
  • NPB: 1997-1998 (Seibu Lions)
  • KBO: 2002 (KIA Tigers)
  • CPBL: 2006 (Macoto Cobras)

Andy Van Hekken / 安迪 / 安狄 / アンディ・バンヘッケン / 앤디 밴 헤켄

  • MLB: 2002 (Detroit Tigers)
  • CPBL: 2007 (Macoto Cobras)
  • KBO: 2012-2015 (Nexen Heroes)
  • NPB: 2016 (Seibu Lions)
  • KBO  2016-2017 (Nexen Heroes)
  • CPBL: 2018 (Uni-Lions)

Gary Rath / 銳斯 / ゲーリー・ラス / 게리 레스

  • MLB: 1998-1999 (Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins)
  • KBO: 2001-2002 (KIA Tigers, Doosan Bears)
  • NPB: 2003 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • KBO: 2004 (Doosan Bears)
  • NPB: 2005 (Rakuten Golden Eagles)
  • CPBL: 2007 (La New Bears)
  • KBO: 2008 (Doosan Bears)

Mike Johnson / 強森 / マイク・ジョンソン / 존슨

  • MLB: 1997-2001 (Baltimore Orioles, Montreal Expos)
  • NPB: 2002 (Kintetsu Buffaloes)
  • KBO: 2003, 2005 (KIA Tigers)
  • CPBL: 2008 (La New Bears)
  • KBOL 2009 (SK Wyverns)
  • CPBL: 2009 (La New Bears)

Takatsu Shingo / 高津臣吾 / 다카쓰 신고

  • NPB: 1991-2003 (Yakult Swallows)
  • MLB: 2004-2005 (Chicago White Sox, New York Mets)
  • NPB: 2006-2007 (Yakult Swallows)
  • KBO: 2008 (Nexen Heroes)
  • CPBL: 2010 (Sinon Bulls)

Ken Ray / 銳 / ケニー・レイ / 레이

  • MLB: 1999, 2006 (Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves)
  • KBO: 2008 (SK Wyverns)
  • CPBL: 2010-2012 (La New Bears, Lamigo Monkeys)
  • NPB: 2013 (Rakuten Golden Eagles)
  • CPBL: 2014 (Lamigo Monkeys)
  • NPB: 2015-2016 (Rakuten Golden Eagles)
  • CPBL: 2017 (Lamigo Monkeys) – Farm Team Only

Eric Junge / 艾力克 / エリック・ヤング / 연지

  • MLB: 2002-2003 (Philadelphia Phillies)
  • NPB: 2008 (Orix Buffaloes)
  • KBO: 2009 (Hanwha Eagles)
  • CPBL: 2010 (Sinon Bulls)
  • Photo Credit: Liberty Times

Ryan Glynn / 格林 / ライアン・グリン / 라이언

  • MLB: 1999-2001 (Texas Rangers)
  • KBO: 2003 (Samsung Lions)
  • MLB: 2004-2005 (Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics)
  • NPB: 2006-2009 (Rakuten Golden Eagles, Nippon-Ham Fighters, DeNA BayStars)
  • CPBL: 2011 (Uni-Lions)

Bryan Corey / 酷力 ブライアン・コーリー / 브라이언 코리

  • MLB: 1999, 2002 (Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • NPB: 2004 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • MLB: 2006-2008 (Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres)
  • NPB: 2010 (Lotte Marines)
  • KBO: 2011 (Lotte Giants)
  • CPBL: 2011 (Lamigo Monkeys)

*Credit to “来日外国人マニア @rainichi_bball” on Twitter for pointing out that Bryan Corey is also on the list. Thank you again!

Brad Thomas / 湯瑪仕 / ブラッド・トーマス / 브래드 토마스

  • MLB: 2001, 2003-2004, 2010-2011 (Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers)
  • NPB: 2005-2006 (Nippon-Ham Fighters)
  • KBO: 2008-2009 (Hanwha Eagles)
  • CPBL: 2012-2014 (Brother Elephants, Chinatrust Brothers)

Justin Thomas / 賈斯汀 / ジャスティン・トーマス / 토마스

  • MLB: 2008, 2010, 2012 (Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees)
  • NPB: 2013 (Nippon-Ham Fighters)
  • KBO: 2014 (KIA Tigers)
  • CPBL: 2015 (Uni-Lions)

Doug Mathis / 馬力斯 / ダグ・マシス / 더그 매시스

  • MLB: 2008-2010 (Texas Rangers)
  • KBO: 2011 (Samsung Lions)
  • NPB: 2012 (Lotte Marines)
  • CPBL: 2015 (Uni-Lions)

Chris Seddon / 神盾 / クリス・セドン / 크리스 세든

  • MLB: 2007, 2010, 2012 (Florida Marlins, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians)
  • KBO: 2013 (SK Wyverns)
  • NPB: 2014 (Yomiuri Giants)
  • CPBL: 2015 (Lamigo Monkeys)
  • KBO: 2015-2016 (SK Wyverns)
  • CPBL: 2017 (Fubon Guardians)

Alfredo Figaro / 福瑞多 / アルフレッド・フィガロ / 알프레도 피가로

  • MLB: 2009-2010 (Detroit Tigers)
  • NPB: 2011-2012 (Orix Buffaloes)
  • MLB: 2013-2014 (Milwaukee Brewers)
  • KBO: 2015 (Samsung Lions)
  • CPBL: 2017 (Uni-Lions)

Uni-Lions foreign player Alfredo Figaro pitching


Affiliations, Nationalities by the Numbers:

Here’s a quick breakdown of those 19 players’ nationalities and their affiliations while playing in the MLB, NPB, KBO and the CPBL.

  • USA: 8 players
  • Dominican Republic: 7 players
  • Japan: 1 player
  • Canada: 1 player
  • Australia: 1 player
TEAMLEAGUEPLAYERS
Uni-LionsCPBL7
Yomiuri GiantsNPB6
Samsung LionsKBO6
Detroit TigersMLB5
KIA TigersKBO5
Los Angeles DodgersMLB4
Brother ElephantsCPBL3
Hanwha EaglesKBO3
La New BearsCPBL3
Macoto CobrasCPBL3
Lamigo MonkeysCPBL3
Minnesota TwinsMLB3
Nippon-Ham FightersNPB3
Orix BuffaloesNPB3
Rakuten Golden EaglesNPB3
SK WyvernsKBO3
Texas RangersMLB3
Boston Red SoxMLB3
Atlanta BravesMLB2
Baltimore OriolesMLB2
Kansas City RoyalsMLB2
New York MetsMLB2
Nexen HeroesKBO2
Philadelphia PhilliesMLB2
Pittsburgh PiratesMLB2
Seattle MarinersMLB2
Seibu LionsNPB2
Sinon BullsCPBL2
Toronto Blue JaysMLB2
Arizona DiamondbacksMLB2
Lotte MarinesNPB2
Chicago CubsMLB1
Chinatrust BrothersCPBL1
Cleveland IndiansMLB1
DeNA BayStarsNPB1
Doosan BearsKBO1
Florida MarlinsMLB1
Fubon GuardiansCPBL1
Yakult SwallowsNPB1
Hanshin TigersNPB1
Kaoping FALACPBL (TML)1
Kintetsu BuffaloesNPB1
Koos Group WhalesCPBL1
Milwaukee BrewersMLB1
Montreal ExposMLB1
New York YankeesMLB1
Oakland AthleticsMLB1
SoftBank HawksNPB1
Taichung AGANCPBL (TML)1
Lotte GiantsKBO1
San Diego PadresMLB1
Chicago White SoxMLB1

4 COMMENTS

  1. KBO name : Ken Ray(레이) Eric Junge(연지), Ryan Glynn(라이언), Brad Thomas(토마스), Justin Thomas(토마스), Doug Mathis(매티스), Chris Seddon (세든), Alfredo Figaro(피가로)

  2. This is the kind of article I really enjoy. It appeals to the trivia aspect that most baseball fans enjoy.

    It is somewhat surprising that 19 players have managed to accomplish the feat, although it does make a certain amount of sense when you consider that professional baseball players are professionals trying to maximize their career earnings based on their skills. I would guess that just about every player on this list accumulated career earnings that justified all the years spent playing baseball and traveling around like a vagabond.

    At the same time, it would appeal to a certain kind of person. Just think of all the experiences you would have and all the stories to tell playing in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and, for many of them, Canada, various Latin American countries and Australia. A great way to see the world and get paid doing so.

    • Glad you enjoy this one, I had a lot of fun researching it too.

      Come back to this post in a few weeks, there will be actual footage of those players too. I just need to figure a way to embedded 19 videos without slowing down the blog post.

      This blog post been sitting in my draft probably for almost two years, the whole thing came about when I was doing research on the other topic (Players that go from CPBL to MLB). During the research, I starting to noticed some players have played in all four major leagues in the world.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here