Archive for the 'Dominican Republic' Category

Countries Established for Women’s Baseball World Cup

Friday, March 30th, 2018

The Women’s Baseball World Cup will be held at Space Coast Stadium in Vierra, Florida from August 22 -31. The following teams have qualified to compete in this tournament. Japan is the class of the group (rankings in parenthesis).

Asia - Japan (1), Taiwan (6), South Korea (7), Hong Kong (10)

Americas - Canada (2), United States (3), Venezuela (5), Cuba (9), Dominican Republic (NR), Puerto Rico (NR)

Europe - Netherlands (8)

Oceania - Australia (4)

Top 10 Dominican Prospects - Nationals League

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

It is almost a completely new top ten with Reynaldo Lopez, Manuel Margot, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Difo, Jeimer Candelario and Raimel Tapia graduating to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez transferred to the American League list and Francellis Montas dropped out. Only the top two prospects repeated the list, Alex Reyes and Victor Robles. Alex may not have repeated this list if Tommy John surgery had not ended his season last year. Below is the top ten Dominican prospects in the National League:

1. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Victor was number two last year and switched with Alex for the top spot this year. While the power has not shown yet Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus numbers.

2. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. Last year the Padres moved him from Low A to AA, skipping High A. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

4. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

5. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto despite a number of requests about his availability. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

6. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - One of the players the Marlins were able to acquire for Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals have a lot of success finding pitchers with triple digit heat. Sandy is one of those pitchers who sits in the high 90s but hits triple digits regularly, shades of Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez before him. He still has not developed any consistent secondary pitches, still trying to master a slider and curve. His command is not quite there as well. He did get 8 relief appearances with the Cardinals last year where he struck out 10 in eight innings, but he also walked six. If his command does not improve and his secondary pitches do not develop he could always be used out of the bullpen. The Marlins will keep him in the rotation in 2018 in AAA. His lack of secondary pitches and command resulted in the opposition hitting him at a .262 clip with his whiff rate sitting at a disappointing 7.6 per nine innings.

7. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - Adonis does not throw as hard as Sixto but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. It sits in the low 90s. The Phillies signed Adonis the year before they signed Sixto, shelling out just $70,000 for the 17 year old, so for $100,000 they were able to acquire two of the top pitchers on this list. Adonis has a quality change that can make his fastball appear to arrive at the plate with greater velocity and a slider that can be a swing and miss pitch. In Low A Adonis struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .227 average. In three minor league seasons his career ERA sits at an impressive 2.81. The Phillies seem to be promoting him one level at a time so expect him to pitch at High A for the 2018 season.

8. Jorge Guzman RHP (Marlins) - You would have thought the Marlins could have gotten more from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees had more advanced Dominican throwers who hit the radar in triple digits. The Marlins chose the less developed Guzman, who has yet to advance past the rookie leagues since signing in 2014, but has shown some impressive heat. Guzman was ranked as one of the hardest throwing Yankee hurlers, averaging 99 miles per hour with his fastball. He could replace Reyes and Kopech as having one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues. He has not really had the need to work on his secondary pitches, but as he reaches the full season leagues those pitches will need to be developed. His command has been good in the lower levels. His first test of full season league will be in 2018 where he will either break out or fall into obscurity.

9. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs need pitching and Adbert built some additional velocity on his fastball to rise up the ranks. It sits at 93-95. The secondary pitches still needs some work as well as his ability to throw strikes. He has yet to strike out a hitter per inning but an improvement of his change and curve would change that. The opposition struggled to make quality contact, hitting him at a .220 clip. He did get seven starts in AA, which is where he would start the 2018 season. An appearance at the back end of the rotation by the end of the season could be possible.

10. Jhailyn Ortiz OF (Phillies) - The third Philly Dominican on this list, but the one who the Phillies paid a lot to sign. Jhailyn was able to squeeze out a $4.01 million bonus from the Phillies in 2015. At 6′3 he carries 250 pounds, which carries balls far over the fence. He has a strong arm to play right field but his legs lack speed and may result in an eventual move to first base. Last year in the rookie league he slugged eight homeruns with a .560 slugging average. Jhailyn should begin the 2018 season in Low A where his ability to hit for power will begin to get noticed.

United States New Number One

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

With their win in the World Baseball Classic the United States has ended the three year reign of Japan and taken over the number one spot in baseball, according to the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC). With the top 12 teams qualifying for the Premier 12 in 2019 myworld will list the top 13 teams as ranked by the WBSC. Mexico sitting at number five has never been ranked higher.

1. United States (5025 points)
2. Japan (4609 points)
3. South Korea (4158 points)
4. Cuba (3152 points)
5. Mexico (2613 points)
6. Taiwan (2520 points)
7. Canada (2142 points)
8. Australia (2095 points)
9. Netherlands (2002 points)
10. Puerto Rico (1796 points)
11. Venezuela (1765 points)
12. Dominican Republic (1227 points)
13. Nicaragua (1155 points)

You can see the complete list at wbsc.org/rankings/

Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

You can see the 2017 list at the link at the end of this blog. The only graduates from the list were Rafael Devers, the number 3 prospect and Reynaldo Lopez at number 7. A couple players dropped off, number two Francis Martes, number eight Francellis Montes and number nine David Paulino. That leaves five repeaters and five new players added to the list, one of whom appeared on the National League list last year.

1. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) - Eloy was the fourth top Dominican prospect from the National League list last year. He climbs to the top with his trade from the Cubs to the White Sox. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

3. Francisco Meija C (Indians) - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

4. Willy Adames SS (Rays) - He was at the top of this list last year but fell not because he had a bad year but the three above him had good years. Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. His bat will hit for decent power, hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he made better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later.

5. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The first real new player on the list since Jimenez appeared on the National League list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

6. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) - The trade from the Yankees to the Athletics resurrected his career. Forced to be moved from short to second with the acquisition of Gleyber Torres and not being promoted to AA put a dent in his prospect status. He came to life in AA with Oakland hitting .292 with a .851 OPS. Jorge has sneaky power with the potential to hit in the double digits. He has yet to come close to his 82 stolen base year of 2015 but he was 13 for 16 in just 30 games at Midland. The Yankees had given Mateo some centerfield time but with Midland Mateo played all his 30 games at short. He could begin the 2018 season in AAA but a good spring would make it tempting to put him on the major league roster in a super utility role, i.e short, second and centerfield.

7. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - Jesus has the potential to be a special player on offense. Coming into the 2017 season he carried a .332 average in the Dominican and Rookie Leagues. He got his first exposure to the full season league and hit .305. The power also began to show with 15 homeruns and a .478 slugging. Jesus has the speed to play center and the arm to move to right. The offense would be better served if his production could stay in center. Next year he will begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he should continue to rake.

8. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - The Yankees have choices for third base. With the trade of Chase Headley they could move Gleyber Torres there or Andujar. Torres may provide better defense but his natural position is shortstop. Andujar made 17 errors there between two levels and will have to reduce that number if he wants to make camp there. Torres is also recovering from arm surgery and may need some time in AAA to strengthen his arm. Andujar has the power for the position. blasting 16 homeruns last year with 82 RBIs. For a power hitter he made solid contact hitting over .300 at both AA and AAA, including a .571 average in a seven at bat trial with the Yankees. A good spring should earn Andujar a trip north with the Yankees as their starting third baseman.

9. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees have a couple of arms with flash rising up their minor leagues who hit the radar in triple digits. Albert is one of those arms sitting in the mid to high 90s. His secondary pitches are still inconsistent but he did a better job of finding the strike zone last year. Albert can overwhelm hitters with his heat but as he rises up the minor leagues his change and slider/curve need to improve for him to be successful as a starter. Last year at High A the opposition hit him at a .252 clip with 8.13 whiffs per nine innings. At the lower levels hitters were in the low .200s with more than 9 whiffs per nine innings. The Yankees could start Albert in High A to begin the season with a mid-season promotion to AA once he finds success.

10. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) - Another Yankee arm that slices the plate in triple digits, sitting in the mid to higher 90s. Domingo also has a plus change but needs to find a consistent breaking pitch. Domingo is a little more advanced than Abreu, starting last season at High A and jumping to AA before finishing with two starts in AAA. His best work was at AA (2.38 ERA). Control was a problem for him in AAA with 8 walks in 12 innings and in the Florida State League lefthanders seemed to tag him pretty well (.316). An improvement in his slider could change that. Acevedo could see some time in the Yankees rotation next year if he has success in AAA, where he should start the 2018 season.

Puerto Rico Repeats as Series del Caribe Champs

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Puerto Rico rallied for eight runs in their last two innings to blow past the Dominican Republic 9-4 to win the Series del Caribe championship for the second straight season. Jonathan Morales hit a big three run homer in the seventh to put Puerto Rico on top to stay 6-4.

Raul Valdes was pitching well for the first six innings, giving up only one run on a solo shot from Rusney Castillo in the third inning. His two walks in the seventh inning were his first of the game and led to his removal. The bullpen could not protect the lead for him, a problem the Dominicans have had in this series and series in the past.

The Dominicans got off to a quick start in the first inning, taking advantage of two walks in the first inning. Juan Perez made it hurt, driving in both runners with a double to right field. In the third another walk, the second to Gustavo Nunez led to a run when Junior Lake drove in Nunez with a double to give the Dominicans a 3-0 lead. A fourth walk and two fielding errors led to the fourth run for the Dominicans in the fifth inning.

With Raul Valdes cruising going into the seventh the atmosphere did not look rosy for Puerto Rico. Walks to Anthony Garcia and David Vidal put two runners on, stringing a jolt of electricity to the Puerto Rican fans in the stadium. Ramon Ramirez came on to replace Valdes. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third where Ruben Gotay drove them both in with a single. Dayron Varona singled to end the day for Ramirez without retiring a batter, Wirfin Obisbo coming on to face Morales. He served a pitch that Morales drove over the left center field fence for a 6-4 lead, the first lead in the game for the Puerto Ricans.

The Dominicans tried to rally in the top of the eighth with singles from their first two hitters Edwin Espinal and Juan Perez off reliever Robby Rowland. Robby settled down and retired the next three hitters to strand the two runners on first and second.

Puerto Rico matched the Dominicans with two singles to lead off the bottom frame of the inning from Jesmuel Valentin and Anthony Garcia. The Dominicans went with juan Grulon to get out of the mess. Johnny Monell blasted a pitch into left field for a two run double resulting in another failure for the Dominican relievers. Monell scored on a Ruben Gotay single and that was the end of the day for Grulon.

It was the second consecutive Series del Caribe championship for the Caguas Criollos. Countries may have repeated Series del Caribe championships but the last team to win back to back championships was the Aguilas Cibaenas in 1997 and 1998 for the Dominicans. Mexico repeated in 2013 and 2014 but it was by two teams Obregon and Hermosillo.

Next year the series is scheduled to be held in Venezuela, but that is tentative. This year it was supposed to be held in Venezuela but for safety concerns and hyper inflation it was moved to Mexico. During the championship game it was reported Pirates catcher Elias Diaz’s mother was kidnapped in Venezuela. That is not a good start for Venezuela to hold the games.

Puerto Rico and Dominicans to Battle in Series del Caribe Final

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Puerto Rico had a shortened season as they recovered from their hurricane damage, but it was enough to get them to the finals of the Series del Caribe. They will be facing the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico 6 Venezuela 5

Anthony Garcia hit his third homerun of the Series del Caribe, a grand slam in the sixth inning to tie the game 4-4. Venezuela would recapture the lead in the seventh on a Tomas Telis RBI single. Puerto Rico took the lead in the eighth, Irving Falu getting the inning started with a single. A ground ball out advanced him to second and a Telis passed ball moved him to third. Jesmuel Valentin singled to tie the game a second time.

With the score tied Valentin stole second. Rather than face Garcia Venezuela chose to intentionally walk him. Cesar Jimenez came on to replace Mayckol Guaipe. Cesar threw a pitch in the dirt, Telis attempted to throw out Valentin going to third, throwing the ball away to allow Valentin to score the go ahead run. Garcia was thrown out trying to advance to third.

Miguel Mejia came on to pitch for Puerto Rico and retired the last six Venezuelans to secure the win.

Coming into the sixth inning David Thompson had retired 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced, giving up only a two out single to Garcia in the fourth inning. In the sixth Falu, Rusney Castillo and Valentin hit consecutive singles to load the bases with one out. Venezuela went with Nestor Molina to face Garcia, who blasted the ball over the left centerfield wall for the grand slam.

Venezuela had the opportunity to put the game away in the fifth when they opened the inning with three singles and a double to score three runs. But they could only get a walk to load the bases and a Tomas Telis pop up failed to drive in a run.

Dominican Republic 7 Cuba 4

Cuba scored early off their Cuban ace of the past Yunesky Maya to take an early 3-0 lead. Lazaro Blanco shut out the Dominicans for the first five innings. The Dominicans finally got to him in the sixth, Junior Lake leading off the inning with a triple. Two outs later it appeared Lake would be stranded at third, but Ronny Rodriguez gave the Dominicans a boost with a two run shot into left center field. A Carlos Paulino walk finished the day for Blanco.

Miguel Lahera was able to get out of the sixth inning without any further damage. In the seventh he coughed up a leadoff single to Yefri Perez and then walked Abiatal Avelino. Raidel Martinez came on to replace Lahera to protect the Cubans 3-2 lead. Gustavo Nunez laid down a bunt but Martinez threw the ball away to allow the tying run to score. An intentional walk to Junior Lake loaded the bases but Edwin Espinal singled to drive in Avelino and Nunez to give the Dominicans a 5-3 lead. Alain Sanchez came on to pitch with the bases loaded and no outs and was able to escape the inning without giving up a run.

The Dominicans were able to pounce again for two in the eighth. A Yefri Perez walk and a steal of second got him to third on a ground out. Gustavo Nunez drove him in with a single. Nunez got into scoring position by stealing second and scored on a Junior Lake single to up the Dominican lead to 7-3.

Frederich Cepeda was the big bat for Cuba. He hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the eighth to narrow the score to 7-4. He also hit a two run triple in the second and made it a Little League homerun by scoring on a wild throw by Dominican right fielder Ronny Rodriguez. After the Cepeda homer in the eighth the Cubans did not have enough life in their bats to mount a three run comeback. Despaigne made the final out to finish off an 0 for 4 performance. He failed to get a hit in the series.

With Maya sent to the showers early in the second the Dominicans had to rely on their bullpen to protect the lead. Other than the Cepeda homer in the eighth they shut out the Cubans on six hits for the last 7.2 innings.

Cuba Win Pool Play in Series del Caribe

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

There were some meaningless games in the Series del Caribe. Mexico won their first game but it did not help them make the playoffs. Cuba also won to give them the best record in pool play, but that only gave them a date with the Dominican Republic in the first round of the playoffs. The Dominicans gave Cuba their only loss.

Cuba 6 Puerto Rico 3

Raul Gonzalez broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI double in the seventh inning to give Cuba the victory and the honor of winning pool play. Guillermo Aviles clinched it in the eighth with a two run single to up the spread by three. Leandro Martinez shut out the Puerto Rican bats for the last four innings to preserve the win.

All of Puerto Rico’s runs were scored on solo shots, the last one in the fifth inning by Cuban native Dayron Varona. Anthony Garcia hit his second homerun of the series in the first inning and Ruben Gotay slugged one in the fifth inning, the beginning of back to backs with Varona that tied the score at 3-3.

Frank Morejon hit a solo shot for Cuba in the third inning to score their first run. He also added an RBI double in the fifth and scored three of the six Cuban runs.

Mexico 8 Dominican Republic 1

Mexico got their first win but it did not help them advance in the playoffs since it was a foregone conclusion entering the game they were out of it. Mexico broke the game open in the sixth inning with four runs, two of them driven in on a homerun by Justin Greene. Japhet Amador added a solo shot in the seventh.

Sergio Mitre worked six innings to get the win for Mexico.

Mexico Gets Eliminated Early from Series del Caribe

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Wins by the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico gave every team two wins in pool play with the exception of host Mexico, who had yet to capture a win. With only one game left for Mexico they will be the team eliminated from the final four.

Puerto Rico 12 Venezuela 7

Puerto Rico clinched a spot in the final four with their bats coming alive early. David Vidal hit a three run homerun in a four run first and Rusney Castillo hit a two run homer in a four run second and Puerto Rico had sprinted to an early 8-0 lead. David Vidal drove in his fourth run of the game in the second inning with an RBI single.

In the eighth Puerto Rico had back to back homers from Jesmuel Valentin and Anthony Garcia to continue the homer barrage. Puerto Rico finished the day with 16 hits, Anthony Garcia and Jonathan Morales leading the charge with three hits each. Garcia scored three runs.

Carlos Teller got the start for Venezuela and could not get out of the second inning. The Nicaraguan hurler was charged with 8 runs. Fernando Cruz got credit for the win pitching 2.2 innings of shutout relief. David Richardson could not last past the third inning for Puerto Rico.

Venezuela was able to accumulate 13 hits but coming back from an 8-0 deficit proved to be too much. Luis Domoromo led the charge with three hits allowing him to score three runs. He is hitting .750 for the series.

Dominican Republic 7 Cuba 1

Dominican Republic sent Cuba down to their first defeat. The win also qualified them for the final four playoffs. Bryan Evans quieted the Cuban bats to just one run for seven innings, that being a Roel Santos homerun in the sixth inning. Santos was the only bat working for Cuba, stringing together three of their seven hits.

Junior Lake was responsible for the first three runs scored by the Dominican Republic. His two out walk in the first inning was followed by a stolen base. Edwin Espinal drove him in with a double. In the fifth inning Abiatal Avelino led the inning off with a double. Junior Lake corked a two run homer into centerfield for a 3-0 Dominican lead.

Dominican Republic broke the game open in the seventh. Edwin Espinal drove in the first run with an RBI single, his second RBI of the game. Ronny Rodriguez also drove in a run with a single and Luis Valenzuela drove in two with a triple.

Cuba started Vladimir Banos but only let him work three innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks. Alfredo Despaigne did make a pinch hitting appearance in the game which could mean he could be healthy for the playoffs. Cuba has to be careful with him since Japan and the Softbank Hawks have him under contract.

On the last day of pool play Mexico plays the Dominican Republic and Cuba battles against Puerto Rico, but the four playoff teams have already been decided.

Cuba Starts Off Strong in Series del Caribe

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Myworld was in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend coaching in a volleyball tournament so we missed the first weekend of the Series del Caribe. Below is a summary of the first weekend of activities.

Cuba 6 Venezuela 4

The first day saw Cuba knock off Venezuela in the opener. Yurisbel Gracial drove in three runs, including an RBI double in the first inning to drive in the second run of the game. Roel Santos got the inning started with a single and advanced to third after centerfielder Rafael Ortega committed an error. Yordan Manduley drove him in with a single.

Venezuela tied it with a run in the third. Back to back singles by Luis Sardinas and Rafael Ortega put runners on first and third with no out. Cuba stunted the rally turning a double play but it allowed the first run to score. In the fourth Luis Jimenez went deep with a solo shot to tie the game.

Gracial got the lead back for Cuba in the bottom of the fifth with a sacrifice fly. He scored Raul Gonzalez, who had started the inning with a single. Santos bunted him to second and Manduley advanced him to third with a single.

Cuba extended the lead to 5-2 with a two out rally. Santos started the inning with a walk, then stole second. Manduley walked and Gracial drove in his third run of the game with a single. Alexander Ayala drove in the second run with a single, pinch hitting for batting title winner Jorge Yhonson who had replaced the injured Alfredo Despaigne in left field.

Trailing 6-4 in the top of the ninth Venezuela loaded the bases. Luis Jimenez came to the plate with reliever Raidel Martinez having no place to put him. Martinez struck out Jimenez to end the inning and give Cuba the victory. The win may prove costly as Alfredo Despaigne had to leave the game with a pulled calf muscle.

Puerto Rico 7 Mexico 4

Puerto Rico got off to a good start despite an abbreviated season with a 7-4 win over Mexico. Both teams were tied at 4-4 entering the 8th but Puerto Rico scored three in the inning to put the game away. Anthony Garcia led off the inning with a double and David Vidal scored the go ahead run with a double. A wild pitch scored the second run and Dayron Varona sent one to the fence in center field for an RBI triple to extend the lead to 7-4.

In the bottom frame Mexico put runners on second and third with two out but Walter Ibarra struck out to end the inning. Miguel Mejia replaced Robby Rowland on the mound for the ninth inning, giving up only a one out single to Rico Noel, but retiring the other three hitters to earn the save and give the victory to Puerto Rico.

Venezuela 15 Dominican Republic 4

Venezuela battered Dominican pitching for 20 hits to rout the Dominican Republic. Recent National signing Balbino Fuenmayor went 5 for 5 with two homeruns a double and two singles. He drove in five runs and scored three times. Balbino got the scoring started in the second inning with a solo shot. In the third inning he made it 3-0 with a two run blast. Fuenmayor hit a two run double in the fifth just after the Dominicans scored three in the top frame to trim the lead to 4-3.

In the sixth inning after the first two hitters were retired by the Dominicans Rafael Ortega hit a two run homer and Rene Reyes also hit a two run homer to give Venezuela a commanding 10-4 lead. They scored five more in the 8th, Willains Astudillo and Alexi Amarista each contributing two run doubles to fuel the inning.

Raul Valdes got the start for the Dominican Republic and gave up four runs in four innings of work. The bullpen let the game get away allowing 9 runs in the last three innings Venezuela hit. Freddy Garcia started for Venezuela but was one out shy of getting the victory, allowing three runs.

Cuba 5 Mexico 4

Cuba sent Mexico down to their second loss, while they moved to 2-0 on Saturday. Cuba rallied to score three runs in their last two at bats to pull out the win. Raul Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 7th with a solo homerun. Frederich Cepeda tied the game later in the inning when he hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. In the 8th Raul Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Yoelqui Cespedes with the go ahead run.

Raidel Martinez came on to pitch the ninth and retired Mexico in order to send the Mexican faithful back home disappointed. Alain Sanchez went five innings in relief, allowing just one run to get the victory. He came on in relief of Cuban ace Yoennis Yera, who was not sharp, giving up seven hits and walking three to allow Mexico to score three of their runs.

Dominican Republic 6 Puerto Rico 3

The Dominicans scored five runs in the first two innings to bounce back from their Venezuelan loss in the opener. Edwin Espinal drove in the first two runs in the first inning with a two run single. Francisley Bueno pitched five innings of shutout ball to get the win.

The Dominican bullpen almost choked the game in the sixth with Samuel Deduno failing to retire any of the three hitters he faced. All of them scored to make the game close. Josh Judy was able to retire all three hitters he faced in the ninth to pull out the save for Dominican Republic for their first win.

Giovanni Soto gave up five of the six runs for Puerto Rico, failing to survive the second inning. He failed to retire the first three hitters he faced in the second inning and was pulled.

Venezuela 6 Mexico 4

The Venezuelan bats stayed hot, accumulating 14 hits in their second victory of the Series del Caribe. Willians Astudillo and Luis Domoromo led the charge with three hits apiece. Luis was a perfect 3 for 3 on the day with one walk. Rafael Ortega led the game off with a homerun, his second of the series for Venezuela. Astudillo hit a solo shot in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie giving Mexico a lead they would not relinquish.

Chris Roberson hit a pinch hit two run homer in the 9th to put Mexico within two runs of a victory. A Fernando Perez single brought up pinch hitter Japhet Amador to represent the tying run. Venezuela went to Victor Capellan on the mound. An error by third baseman Niuman Romero put runners on first and third with one out. Walter Ibarra came to the plate representing the go ahead run. Capellan coaxed him into grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.

After the first three days Cuba is the only undefeated team at 2-0. Mexico at 0-3 is close to being eliminated from the Series del Caribe they are hosting. They need a victory over the Dominican Republic in their final game of pool play just to survive. Venezuela is assured of advancing with their 2-1 record and Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico sit at 1-1, both needing one more win to clinch an advance.

Aguilas Dominican Champions

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Aguilas pounded Licey 11-5 to win game seven of the Dominican championship. They used two innings to score nine of their 11 runs, pouncing on starter Rolando Valdez for five in the third and putting the game out of reach with four runs in the ninth. Juan Carlos Perez was the hitting star with four runs driven in on two hits.

Valdez hit a little wildness in the third, giving up two walks with a Jonathan Villar single sandwiched in between to load the bases with no outs. A Daniel Santana single scored one and finished the day for Valdez. Francisco Rosario came on to pitch and walked the first hitter he faced to force in another run. After retiring a hitter a fourth hitter in the inning was walked to up the score to 3-0. With two outs Juan Carlos Perez singled to finish off the scoring, driving in two of his four runs.

Licey pitchers had trouble finding the plate. They walked six hitters, four of them in the disastrous third, with a hit batsman in the sixth inning resulting in another Aguilas run to make it 6-2. Of the six walks, two of them drove in runs and three of the walks eventually scored.

Licey scored their first run in the fourth on a Juan Francisco solo shot. An Erick Aybar single in the bottom of the seventh drove in two to close the gap to 6-4. Aguilas stamped out the momentum in the top of the eighth when Felix Perez led off the inning with a solo shot. In the ninth Johan Camargo slashed a two run single and Juan Carlos Perez smashed a two run double and Aguilas had run up a commanding 11-4 lead.

Yunesky Maya got the start for Aguilas but did not last long enough to get the win, pitching just four innings. He gave up two runs on five hits. Jhan Marinez pitched two innings of shutout relief and got credit for the win.

Last year Licey beat Aguilas to represent Dominican Republic in the Series del Caribe. The last two times Dominican Republic has won the Series del Caribe in 2012 and 2010 the Escogido Leones were the champions. In 2007 and 2008 when the Dominican Republic won back to back Series del Caribe championships Aguilas was the champion. It has been a bit of a dry spell for the Dominican Republic, but Dominicans hope Aguilas can bring back the championship that has been absent these last five years.