Archive for the 'Dominican Republic' Category

United States Knocks Out Dominican Republic

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The United States will be the new kid on the block in the 2017 final four of the World Baseball Classic. In 2013 Japan, Netherlands and Puerto Rico appeared in the final four with the eventual champions the Dominican Republic. The United States eliminated the defending champions and will join the final four party, facing off against two time champions Japan. A Giancarlo Stanton two run homer in the fourth broke a 2-2 tie and propelled the United States to a 6-3 win.

It didn’t start out well for the United States. It almost reminded the sellout 43,002 in attendance of the game against Puerto Rico when six straight hits to begin the game proved fatal to the United States team. An error by the gold glover shortstop Brandon Crawford got the inning started for the Dominicans. Robinson Cano followed with a double to score Manny Machado. A strikeout of Nelson Cruz got past the catcher to put runners on first and third with one out. Carlos Santana singled to make it 2-0 with Cruz advancing to third. It appeared the United States was on the verge of collapse again, digging themselves a big hole to start the game.

Starling Marte grounded a ball to Barandon Crawford at short. Nelson Cruz broke for home. The throw beat Cruz to the plate and the whole complexion of the game seemed to change after that. Adrian Beltre grounded out and the United States got out of the inning trailing only 2-0.

The Dominicans looked like they were going to score again in the second. Gregory Polanco started the inning with a single. Wellington Castillo followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Danny Duffy bore down, getting Jose Reyes to pop out. Manny Machado flied out to Adam Jones in center, too shallow to score Polanco (read further to read about a longer fly out hit by Machado to Jones). Robinson Cano hit a hard grounder to Brandon Crawford at short, who made the play to get out of the inning with no runs.

The United States bounced back in the third, Giancarlo Stanton getting the inning started with a single. Jonathan Lucroy moved Stanton to third with a single. Ian Kinsler grounded to short, Reyes going for two but falling short with Stanton scoring on the play. With two outs Christian Yelich laced a double into center to score Kinsler and tie the game 2-2.

The fourth was reserved for the Giancarlo Stanton two out two run homer. Brandon Crawford got the inning started with a two out single. That was it for Ervin Santana, replaced by Hector Neris to get the last out of the inning.

The Dominicans failed at another opportunity to score a run in the fifth. A leadoff single by Manny Machado ended the day for Danny Duffy. A one out double by Nelson Cruz to left field put runners on second and third with just one out. Again the Dominicans failed to score with Pat Neshek getting Carlos Santana to pop out and Starling Marte to strike out.

The Dominicans pulled to within one in the seventh after a Robinson Cano solo homer with one out. Read further for the hit that occurred earlier that created the one out.

The United States took advantage of the wildness of Alex Colome in the eighth. Christian Yelich walked and Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch. Andrew McCutchen made that wildness pay with a big double into center field to score two runs and give the United States a 6-3 lead.

The Dominicans were deflated after that. The United States retired the Dominicans in order in the eighth and ninth innings to get the victory, Sam Dyson and Luke Gregerson doing the honors. Dyson also got the last two outs of the seventh after the Robinson Cano homer off Tyler Clippard.

Adam Jones perhaps made the catch of a lifetime in the seventh inning prior to the Cano homerun. Jones teammate Manny Machado led off the seventh mashing a ball that appeared to be clearly going over the fence. Jones never gave up racing back, jumping high and reaching his glove over the short fence to rob Machado of a homerun and robbing a fan of a souvenir. The fans erupted in cheers after the catch, many staring in disbelief. All Machado could do is tip his cap to Jones for the catch. He has seen him do that many times before while in an Orioles uniform. This time it was in a uniform that stated “USA”. Tyler Clippard could be seen mouthing from his lips “Oh my God”. It certainly defined what these games are all about. A collection of All Stars or semi All Stars making tremendous plays in the game.

Puerto Rico 13 Venezuela 2

In a game that didn’t mean much since Puerto Rico had clinched their final four advancement and Venezuela was eliminated, Puerto Rico thrashed the Venezuelans with 17 hits. Most of the damage was done in the later innings, when Venezuela went to its thin bullpen. Puerto Rico scored in every inning after the fifth, turning a 2-0 game into a rout.

The still unsigned Angel Pagan racked up three hits from the leadoff spot and Mike Aviles strung together four hits. Kennys Vargas closed out the scoring by slugging a two run homer in the ninth. Jose Deleon worked two outs into the third leaving Venezuela scoreless. Puerto Rico turned to what has turned into a very stingy bullpen to close out the game.

The semifinals begin Monday with the Netherlands doing battle with Puerto Rico. Both teams rely on young infielders to lead their teams. For the Netherlands it is Jonathan Schoop, Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar (playing the outfield), Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons. Puerto Rico relies on Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.

On Tuesday the two traditional baseball powers Japan and the United States do battle. Both teams have a solid veteran presence, but Japan has some youth in Tetsuto Yamada and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh who have carried the team offensively.

The fun that has defined the World Baseball Classic will continue for a few more days.

Dominicans Shut Down Venezuela

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Pitching gets better as the World Baseball Classic gets deeper into the final four. That proved true yesterday as Edison Volquez started the train with 4.1 innings of shutout ball. He struck out six. Five different relievers followed him, allowing just four hits and no runners to cross the plate. Dominican pitchers struck out 14 Venezuelan hitters.

Jhoulys Chacin matched Volquez through the first four innings. He got behind Gregory Polanco 3-1 to open the fifth inning and Polanco made him pay, taking him deep over the right centerfield fence for the first run, and the only run the Dominican pitching staff would need in the game.

The Venezuelans had an opportunity to score in the top of the fifth. A walk to Odubel Herrera and a bunt by Alcides Escobar moved Herrera to second. Robinson Chirinos singled to left, Herrera stopping at third. Fernando Abad came in to replace Volquez and he turned into “a bad” man by getting Ender Inciarte to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

It was the only time Venezuela would get a runner to third until the ninth inning. By then they were down 3-0 after Nelson Cruz slugged a solo homerun to lead off the eighth. Jeurys Familia had struck out the first two hitters. Jose Altuve blooped a single into right field that deflected off the glove of Robinson Cano. A Yangervis Solarte single advanced Altuve to third. With the tying run at the plate Omar Vizquel allowed his shortstop Alcides Escobar to come up to hit. He struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Vizquel chose to walk Robinson Cano intentionally in the third inning with a runner on second and two out to face Jose Bautista. The strategy paid off when Bautista struck out. Roughned Odor is having a rough time defensively, committing his third error, this one from his more natural position of second base. Venezuela chose to put Jose Altuve at third base for the game against the Dominicans. There were 16,390 who attended the game.

The Domincans next game is against the United States. The United States plays Puerto Rico today. A win by the United States over Puerto Rico and a Dominican win over the United States could result in a playoff round to see who advances to the final four if Puerto Rico then defeats Venezuela. Myworld is focused on a different form of March Madness as the World Baseball Classic winds down.

There is also the opportunity for the final four to repeat the 2013 final four when Puerto Rico upset Japan and the Dominicans crushed the Netherlands. It is looking more like at least three of the teams from last year’s final four will repeat.

Japan/Netherlands Advance to Final Four; Puerto Rico Upsets Dominican

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

The Netherlands left no doubt who had the superior team in their game against Cuba. They were up 12-0 after four and only needed seven innings to embarrass a once proud Cuban team 14-1 to advance to the final four. Twenty years ago those were scores the Cubans were putting up on the Netherlands in their games.

Wladimir Balentien hit two homeruns early, a three run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third to put a hurting on the Cuban pitchers. Yurendell DeCaster also homered in the third, a two run shot and contributed four RBIs in the game. He also lined a two run single in the five run fifth to put a dagger in the Cuban spirits to compete in this game. Kalian Sams finished off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh and final inning.

The Cuban bats could not mount much of an offense against Diegomar Markwell, scoring just once against him in his six innings of work. That one score occurred after they were down 13-0. It didn’t matter who the Cubans trotted out to the mound. The Netherlands treated them all as if they were batting practice pitchers. Lazaro Blanco got the start and did not last two innings, giving up four runs. Vladimir Garcia could not last two inning before giving up five runs. Leandro Martinez, a 38 year old who would not have made a Cuban national team in the past, threw the best with three innings of mopup, allowing just two runs.

The crowd was listed at 40,680.

Japan 8 Israel 3

Japan ended a nice run by Israel with their 8-3 win, eliminating them from the final four. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with closer Josh Zeid getting the start and shutting out the Japanese bats for four innings. Israel just does not have enough depth in its pitching staff to keep the Samurai bats down for a full game. In the sixth Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh woke the bats up by leading off the inning with a homerun. Before the inning was complete four more runs had scored.

Dylan Axelrod replaced Josh Zeid and retired the side in order in the fifth. In the sixth he was not so fortunate, giving up two hits and a walk for three runs. His replacements were also ineffective and when the sixth inning was done you could put a fork in the game. Japan had a 5-0 lead.

The Israeli bats had trouble hitting Kodai Senga, producing a leadoff single from Sam Fuld in the first. After the leadoff single the Israelis could muster no more hits when Senga finished his outing after the fifth inning.

Japan put the game away in the eighth with three runs, Seiichi Uchikawa roping a two run double and Nobuhiro Matsuda tacking on one more run with a single.

Israel finally strung an offense together in the ninth with a walk and two singles off Kazuhisa Makita to score their first run, an Ike Davis single driving in the run. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run double to pull Israel to 8-3, but that was as far as they were going to get. The good news for Israel is they get an automatic bid to play in the next WBC, not having to qualify as they did this year.

There were 43,179 who attended this game, much of the crowd already purchasing tickets for the Netherlands/Cuba game which counted against this attendance.

Puerto Rico 3 Dominican Republic 1

The Puerto Ricans proved the Dominicans could be beaten. Now the Dominicans have to sweep the United States and Venezuela to get to the final four. The bullpen of Hector Santiago, Joe Jimenez, Joseph Colon and Edwin Diaz quieted the Dominican bats to three hits in the last 6.2 innings. The momentum shifter may have been when right fielder Eddie Rosario threw out Jean Segura at home in the first to end a potential Dominican rally with zero runs. In the bottom of the first Puerto Rico used a couple walks and a Yadier Molina single to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Dominicans did not have the same fans in San Diego that they had in Miami. It was less of a home game for them. Nelson Cruz hit a leadoff homer in the second, but the crowd roar for the homer was not as loud as it was for his three run shot against the United States. The Dominicans play on emotion and the emotion was absent.

In the fourth Puerto Rico took the lead taking advantage of a throwing error by Adrian Beltre to allow Javier Baez to reach second. Eddie Rosario bounced a ball over the right field fence to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

The Dominicans never really threatened after the solo homer from Cruz in the second. They got runners to second but that was the extent of their threats. Yadier Molina led off the sixth with a solo shot to give Puerto Rico a little cushion that they did a much better job of protecting that the United States bullpen.

Of course the crowd was much quieter than in Miami. Tony Pena tried to motivate his team by getting tossed in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked and with Adrian Beltre at the plate Cruz broke for second against Yadier Molina. He was thrown out to end the inning. Edwin Diaz mowed through the Dominican lineup in the ninth to pick up the save.

Only 16,637 attended the game at Petco Park in San Diego, a far cry from the 30,000 plus who showed up in Miami to support the Dominicans there.

Extra Innings Galore in WBC; United States Advances

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Japan and the Netherlands were the first team to play past the tenth inning to initiate the extra inning rule. Japan pulled off a successful bunt followed by a two run single from Sho Nakata to give Japan an 8-6 lead. The Netherlands chose to have Jurickson Profar swing away and he popped to first. With no runners in scoring position Xander Boegerts grounded out and Kalian Sams popped out to end the game.

The two battled it out like punch drunk boxers with both teams scoring a run in the second and four runs in the third. Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homerun in the second and Wladimir Balentien hit a two run homerun in the third to spice up the Netherlands offense. Sho Nakata continued to stay hot with a three run homerun in the third. He finished the game 3 for 6 with 5 RBIs.

The Netherlands took the game into extra innings on a Jonathan Schoop RBI single in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and two out and a chance to win the game Curt Smith struck out.

Japan threatened in the tenth, loading the bases with one out. Norichika Aoki grounded into a double play, with many thinking Curt Smith was off the base when he caught the relay throw from Andrelton Simmons.

While the starting pitching was disappointing for both teams the relief pitching was stellar. The Japanese bullpen allowed only the one run in the ninth inning. The Netherlands also limited Japan to one run until the eleventh inning. There were over 44,000 who attended the game.

Dominican Republic 10 Colombia 3

Colombia battled Dominican Republic to a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. The Dominican Republic exploded for seven runs in the eleventh inning with Jean Segura providing the big hit with a bases clearing three run double.

Colombia had an opportunity to win the game in the ninth. After Jorge Alfaro hit a solo shot in the eighth to tie the game at 3-3 Colombia put their first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth. Donavan Solano grounded out to put runners on first and third with one out. Reynaldo Rodriguez lined a shot to Jose Bautista in left field. Pinch runner Oscar Mercado tagged from third but Bautista threw a strike home to cut off the winning run. Myworld would have liked to have been there to hear the roar from the Dominicans after that play.

Close to 37,000 watched the Dominican Republic advance to the second round. Colombian fans can take satisfaction that their win over Canada automatically qualifies them for the 2021 WBC, or whenever the next WBC is played.

United States 8 Canada 0

The United States advanced to the second round with another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic in their future with their win over Canada. Canada will have to qualify to play in the next WBC after their last place finish. The United States put the game away with seven runs in the first two innings. Nolan Arenado hit a three run homer in the second. Eric Hosmer hit the first of his two doubles in the first to drive in two runs.

Danny Dufy got the start for the United States throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Ryan Dempster had his second poor start of the WBC failing to get out of the first inning before allowing three walks and two hits in the three run first. Only 22,000 showed up to watch the game between the two North American teams, evidence the WBC is being financed by the party atmosphere of the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico 9 Italy 3

Puerto Rico scored all their runs in the first five innings to romp over Italy and advance to the second round undefeated. Italy will have to wait until the results of the Mexico/Venezuela game to determine their fate. Puerto Rico will also get another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic after losing to them in the finals of the 2013 WBC.

Carlos Correa hit a three run homer in the fourth to fuel the offense. Jose Berrios worked five innings to get the win. The only two hits he allowed were solo shots from Drew Butera and John Andreoli. The bullpen of Hiram Burgos and Miguel Mejia shutout the Italians on one hit the remaining four innings.

Dominican Rally Stuns United States Team

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Myworld has not been to a World Series game but we have attended a number of playoff games in San Diego, D.C. and Baltimore and it gets no louder than the noise at Marlins stadium last night. Especially after Nelson Cruz sealed the comeback by the Dominicans with his three run homerun to lead the Dominicans over the United States 7-5.

It was not so easy this time for the Dominicans. They had trouble making solid contact off United States starter Marcus Stroman. He allowed just two hits in his four plus innings of work. A two out single by Starling Marte in the fifth put Stroman at his pitch count and Tanner Roark came on to get the last out. The bullpen could not hold the 5-0 lead.

Meanwhile the United States team peppered Dominican starter Edinson Volquez. The Dominican’s defensive deficiencies also led to a couple runs. In the third Carlos Santana was unable to scoop a one hop throw from Robinson Cano to allow Ian Kinsler to reach. Adam Jones lined a ball into right center field. Nelson Cruz and Starling Marte both went for the ball and as they both reached for the ball their arms collided sending the ball into the right field warning track. Kinsler scored and Adam Jones stopped at third on the three base error. Christian Yelich blooped a single into left field to score Jones, advancing to second when Jose Bautista over ran the ball. Nolan Arenado lined to third to end the inning.

The United States tacked on another run off Volquez in the fourth. Paul Goldschmidt singled with a wild pitch advancing him to second. Giancarlo Stanton walked. Jonathan Lucroy lined a ball to right center. Nelson Cruz yielded to Marte who made the catch for the second out. Brandon Crawford lined a single to center to score Goldschmidt.

The United States tacked on two more runs off Jumbo Diaz to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Paul Goldschmidt again got the inning started with a single and scored when Giancarlo Stanton muscled a drive to left center for a double. Fernando Abad came on to face the lefty Brandon Crawford. Brandon scored Giancarlo with a double to right field to make it 5-0.

Tanner Roark opened the Tiger’s den for the Dominicans, putting their fans back in the game when he gave up a monster homerun to Manny Machado in the bottom of the sixth. The ball cleared the left field bleachers and bounced on the pavilion. Tanner appeared flustered after that, with the crowd momentum shifting to the Dominican side. His breaking pitches bounced in the dirt and his fastballs drifted off the plate. Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista walked. Carlos Santana singled up the middle to score a second run. Roark still struggled to throw strikes but got Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre to fly out to end the inning.

Myworld was surprised to see Roark start the seventh. He didn’t last long, giving up a leadoff double to Wellington Castillo. Daniel Robertson came on to replace Roark. Wellington Castillo launced a double over the head of leftfielder Christian Yelich to cut the lead to 5-3. Robertson was able to slither out of the inning, stranding Castillo at third when Manny Machado grounded out to third and Robinson Cano struck out. With the momentum shifted it was only a matter of time before the Dominicans took the lead.

When you saw Andrew Miller take the mound in the eighth there was a sense of comfort if you were a United States fan. He got ahead of Jose Bautista 0-2 but then bounced a pitch in the dirt that hit Bautista. Carlos Santana bounced a ball up the middle, Ian Kinsler made a spectacular diving play to get to the ball, but his throw to second was off the base and the Dominicans had the tying runs on with Nelson Cruz at the plate. Miller got ahead in the count 0-2 but Cruz put a charge in his next pitch that cleared the left field wall just inside the foul pole for a 6-5 Dominican lead. The crowd went wild as if 20,000 sticks of dynamite had just exploded at the same time. Cruz cruised around the bases in a maniacal celebration of joy as the Dominicans had taken the lead. A batter later Starling Marte drove a pitch over the right field wall and the crowd again erupted in joy. Marte could not hold his emotions as he danced his way around the bases to give the Dominicans a 7-5 lead.

It was all over for the sullen United States team. Jeurys Familia came on to pitch the ninth, blowing smoke, with his fastball hitting three digits. The United States was retired in order with the Ian Kinsler strikeout for the third out sending the Dominican fans waving their flags and the crowd celebrating. There was a lot of dancing in the aisles and hugging on the field as the Dominicans had just defeated the United States 7-5.

Game Notes: It was still impossible for myworld to get to the game on time even after a 4 PM departure for a 630 game. Traffic getting to the stadium was backed up and parking was impossible to find. Myworld finally parked in a worn down area of Little Havana, where a parking spot opened up for me. I was grateful my car was still intact when the game had ended…Myworld is convinced the stadium was plopped down right in the middle of a neighborhood. There is no easy access to the stadium, parking is limited, with the housing owners charging for parking on their front lawns or in their backyard your only real option. Myworld does not know how Marlins fans can tolerate the chaos. Now we have a better understanding of why their attendance is so low…The automated ticket laser delayed the entry into the stadium. It may be able to ensure tickets are valid but waiting for the laser to recognize the bar code is much slower than tearing off a ticket stub. There was really no line trying to get in the park, just a mob of fans 20 yards deep pushing towards the ticket attendees with their laser guns…The women and their fashion exhibits were again spectacular. Backless outfits seemed to be in vogue for this game, but the cleavage was still heavily advertised…There were 37,466 at the game. Most of them were Dominican fans with signs crying out for Plantain power…Manny Machado is not wearing uniform number 13. He is wearing number 3…This had all the atmosphere of a playoff game. As one Dominican said to me - “Don’t worry. The United States played well. But no one beats the Dominicans in baseball.” They are the defending champs so I will have to give him his chops. We’ll see how they play against Japan.

Major leaguers by Country

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Baseball America broke out the top countries who have players in the major leagues. The top ten is listed below.

1. United States - 5,043 (67.34%)
2. Dominican Republic - 1,117 (14.92%)
3. Venezuela - 628 (8.39%)
4. Puerto Rico - 163 (2.18%)
5. Canada - 92 (1.23%)
6. Mexico - 91 (1.22%)
7. Cuba - 82 (1.09%)
8. Panama - 52 (0.69%)
9. Colombia - 38 (0.51%)
10. Australia - 29 (0.39%)

If you combined Curacao and Aruba, both colonies of the Netherlands and included them with the players from the Netherlands that count would also be 38, putting the Netherlands in tenth place.

You can go to the International section of Baseball America to see the complete list.

Dominican Republic Overwhelms Canada

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Myworld is not too sure if we went to a party while a baseball game was being played in Miami, or if we went to a baseball game and a party erupted. It was a bit wild at Marlins park last night with the Dominican Republic overwhelming Canada 9-2 and at least 20,000 Dominican fans enjoying it. Now we have a sense of what the Series del Caribe must have been like when many of the stars still played in the event.

Getting to the stadium from West Palm Beach was a real challenge. Traffic was stop and go for much of the way as we arrived closer to Miami and parking seemed chaotic. A neighborhood took advantage of the lack of parking choices offered, charging $15 for you to park in their back yard or on their front lawn. Myworld did not get into the game until the second inning. There were also hundreds of Dominican fans arriving late to the ballgame.

Needless to say Marlins Park is a different park. Perhaps we arrived from the wrong side of the stadium but there was a lot of walking before we could find the correct entrance. The security was conducted about 100 yards from the ticket entrance. Once we arrived at the ticket entrance we still had to walk along a long concrete path to actually get to the actual stadium entrance. It seemed endless and by the time we arrived the Dominicans seemed to have the game under control 4-0.

When you compare the teams position by position the only area Canada had an advantage was first base, where you would take Freddie Freeman over Carlos Santana. Otherwise it was Robinson Cano advantage over Pete Orr, Jose Reyes advantage over Jonathan Malo (his last name being bad in Spanish), Manny Machado over Eric Wood at third base and the list goes on. It is no wonder the Dominicans won 9-2.

In the second inning the Dominicans seemed to exploit the open area on the right side of the infield. Pete Orr was playing just a shade to the right of second base and the Dominicans slapped two singles through that hole. We just missed the Wellington Castillo two run homer but we heard the roar as we trudged up the long concrete pathway to get to the entrance to the park.

The Canadians stayed in the game thanks to some poor fielding by the Dominicans, specifically Carlos Santana at first base. In the third inning Jonathan Malo bounced a ball up the middle. Jose Reyes fielded it but his throw was off the base. Carlos Santana tried to make a sweep tag but the ball escaped from his glove and rolled into right field. Malo ended up at second base where he would eventually score on a balk.

In the top of the fifth the Canadians would add one more run to pull to within two. Pete Orr bounced a single up the middle. Manny Machado made a nice play on a Jonathan Malo grounder but failed to turn two when Carlos Santana could not scoop the one bounce throw to first. Dalton Pompey bounced a ball to the left centerfield warning track where Malo was able to turn on the after burners and score his second run of the game. Hansel Robles was able to strike out Justin Morneau and Tyler O’Neil to limit the damage.

In the bottom frame the Dominicans ran themselves out of a potential big inning. Jose Bautista lined a single into centerfield. Carlos Santana drilled a ball over the centerfielder’s head. Bautista was waved home, appeared to be losing gas as he rounded third and Malo rifled a perfect throw home to nail the now chugging Bautista by five feet. Jim Henderson walked Nelson Cruz and gave up a RBI single to left field to Adrian Beltre, departing the game without really retiring a batter. Kevin Chapman retired the next two hitters to limit the damage to 5-2.

Kevin Chapman came on to start the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Jose Reyes. Reyes stole second but had to hold there after an infield single by Manny Machado on a nice stop by Malo in the hole. A wild pitch advanced them but it did not matter when Jose Bautista drove a pitch from the recently arrived Dustin Molleken deep into the left field bleachers. He did a bit of admiring the shot from home plate. That about iced the game 8-2.

The Dominicans scored their last run in the seventh. The inning should have ended with runners on first and third with one out and Jose Reyes lined out to second. Castillo had wandered too far off second and the throw from Orr to first went past Freeman and into the Canadian dugout for an error to allow the runner on third to score.

In the ninth Fernando Rodney came on to start the inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced. He was replaced on the mound but before departing he did his patented bow and arrow pose at least twice before heading to the dugout, to the delight of the Dominicans in the crowd. Jeurys Familia struck out pinch hitter Josh Naylor to end the game.

Game Notes: You have to love the enthusiasm of the Dominicans at the game. The attendance was announced at 27,388. Over 20,000 had to be Dominicans with about 100 Canadians. The rest were neutral observers like me enjoying the party atmosphere put on by the Dominicans…The Dominican women dressed to the game as if this was an Oscar ceremony. There were no fashionable gowns, but some of the jeans looked like they were painted on and the cleavage was showing. Sometimes it was very hard for myworld to focus on the game…Only the top rows seemed not filled at the stadium. Hopefully myworld will arrive a little earlier on Saturday to explore the stadium…What we did notice was the food prices at the concessions seemed extremely expensive, but the wait lines were at least one inning, so the people were buying at the prices that were being offered.

Top Dominican Prospects - NL

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Not a lot changed with the top Dominican prospects from the National League. No player graduated to the major leagues. Myworld could have cut and pasted from the 2016 list and added it to the 2017 list. Below are the top Dominican prospects with a few new additions.

1. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - Last year his season was delayed by a drug suspension. This year his season will not get started because of Tommy John surgery. Throwing three digit fastballs can put a lot of stress on that elbow. In his 14 starts last year he put up the worst numbers of his career with a 4.96 ERA and a .252 opposition average. Perhaps his elbow was bothering him then. It will be interesting to see if he can recover all the velocity on his fastball when he returns but it will be at least until mid 2018 before Cardinal fans will see that. Since he has not pitched over 111 innings in his minor league career his pitch counts will be strictly monitored upon his return.

2. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) - Met fans will know how Yankee fans felt when they compared the defensive range of Derek Jeter in his final year at shortstop to that of Didi Gregorius. Amed has gold glove tools for a defensive player at the position far greater than what Asdrubal Cabrera or Wilmer Flores will ever show. He can also hit for average with a .341 average in a 200 at bat trial in AA. The power is short but the speed and the patience to take walks is there for him to be an effective lead off hitter. Expect him to start the season in AAA and when the contract of Cabrera expires after 2017 he will be the Mets shortstop.

3. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Robles has yet to show the power but it should come as he matures. He won’t be a slugger but he has the other four tools to create havoc on the opposition. His arm is plus for right field, his speed could play in center and his bat should consistently sit in the .300 neighborhood. Once the power comes Robles has the opportunity to be a 20/20 player on a good year. The Nationals expect Robles to take the place of Harper after Bryce leaves for free agency.

4. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) - Eloy is another one of those 6′4″ giants who can extend his arms and hit the ball a long way. Eloy lacks the speed or the arm to play anything but left field, so that will limit him. Last year in his first year of full season ball he hit .329 with 14 homeruns, putting together a .901 OPS. The Cubs can show a lot of patience with Eloy. Expect him to spend a full season in High A. He will probably not see the Cubs outfield until 2018.

5. Manuel Margot OF (Padres) - The Padres acquired Margot in the Craig Kimbrel trade. His tools and upside are much greater than current centerfielder Travis Jankowski. Last year he had a 10 game September debut and held his own with a .243 average. The power has yet to come but Manuel easily has the other four tools, good speed, ability to hit for average, ability to cover ground in centerfield and the arm to fit in right field should that be a need. Until his power develops he will start his career as a leadoff hitter, but he could move into the number three spot in a couple years.

6. Raimel Tapia OF (Rockies) - Raimel has hit .300 every place he has played. His one failure was his major league debut this year when he only hit .263. His arm fits well in right and he has the speed to play center but the Rockies do not use him there. He may fit the Ichiro role by becoming a .300 hitting right fielder who does not hit for a lot of power. The Rockies outfield situation is a bit crowded so until they get rid of an outfielder Tapia is destined for AAA where he can improve on his .317 minor league career average. The one skill he needs to improve on is his ability to successfully steal bases. His success percentage is very poor.

7. Jeimer Candelario 3B/1B (Cubs) - The nice thing about the Cubs is they like moving players around to different positions. For Jeimer that is a good thing since he plays the same position as Kris Bryant. Jeimer does not have the speed to play the outfield so he will be limited to the corner infield positions. His power has also not shown yet to profile well at the corner infield, though he did slug .542 with 9 homeruns in a 260 at bat debut in AAA. Once he learns to turn on pitches the power will come. His batting average will always be around .300.

8. Aristides Aquino OF (Reds) - Another 6′4 outfielder but Aristides has the arm to play right field. He has already shown his power bat with 23 homeruns in the Florida State League. His lack of burner speed profiles him best as a right fielder, with a plus arm. One thing Aristides can improve on is his walk to whiff ratio (34/104). That could restrict his average to the .250s once he faces major league pitching. Expect him to play a full season in AA in 2017.

9. Dinelson Lamet RHP (Padres) - There is a lot of swing and miss in his pitches, with 11 whiffs per nine innings in AA. Myworld likes his 6′4 inch height and his mid-90s fastball. His slider is plus but he just started throwing his change up last year. If that pitch does not become at least average he could move to the bullpen. Last year Dinelson moved from High A to AAA. In 2017 he could make his major league debut.

10. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Rafael Bautista just missed making this list. That gives the Nationals three good outfielders in a couple years. Soto may have the most power among this trio but his speed plays below the other two. His arm is good enough for right field but it falls short of Robles so he may be destined for left field if all three patrol the Nationals outfield in a few years. The 2017 season will be his first in a full season league so it will be interesting to see what numbers he puts up. Last year he hit .368 at the two rookie level leagues in 190 at bats. If he can continue that the Nationals will move him up quickly.

Domincan Republic Prospects NL 2016

Domincan Republic 2017 WBC Review

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Overview - The Dominican Republic are the defending champions. That is all you need to say. They overcame a stunning upset by the Netherlands in 2013 eliminating them from second round competition to win it the next time, dethroning two time defending champion Japan and beating the Netherlands in a semi-final game to get there. It was the perfect finish to the 2013 WBC. The ideal scenario would have them defeat Japan in the finals but the Japanese were upset by Puerto Rico in the semifinals.

The WBC is their bread and butter when it comes to their international play. That is when the major leaguers participate. In the amateur international competition they are not so great, which is a reason for their low overall international ranking. In World Cup competition you have to go back almost 50 years the last time they won a medal. Their best finish was in 1948 when they won a gold. They won silver medals in 1942, 1950 and 1952 and took bronze in 1943 and 1969. When major league teams started stealing their ballplayers the Dominican Republic did not have the organizational capability of putting winning teams together absent their major league talent.

In the Pan Am games the Dominican Republic took the gold 1n 1955 and snatched the silver in 1979 but they have not medaled since then. They are even losing their dominance in the Series del Caribe as more major leaguers choose not to play in the event. This year they were the first team eliminated from the playoff round. They have not won the event since 2012. With the win by Puerto Rico only Venezuela has a longer run of not winning a Series del Caribe championship.

In youth tournaments, the building block for creating players the Dominican Republic is usual absent from the tournament or absent from the medal rounds. Most of their youth 16 and under are hanging out at the major league training facilities that dot the Dominican landscape hoping for an opportunity to show someone they have major league skills. They have no interest in competing in international tournaments.

Because the Dominican Republic does not do so well in international tournaments their international ranking is low. To qualify for the Premier 12 tournament a country has to be ranked in the top 12 of countries for baseball. The Dominican Republic falls one short of that at 13th. It is rumored that if the WBC does not achieve revenue for the 2017 event that major league baseball will turn the Premier 12 into the top international baseball event. The problem with that is at the last Premier 12 in 2015 major league baseball did not allow any player on the 40 man major league roster to participate in the event. As the event was held in November and some teams added players to their 40 man roster while the championship game was being played the United States had to remove players from their roster who were added to 40 man rosters with no replacements available.

The only time the Dominican Republic qualified for the Olympics was in 1992. They finished pool play 2-6, defeating Italy and Spain but failing to advance to the medal round. In three consecutive games against Japan, Taiwan and the United States they lost by the combined scores of 38-0, with the games not going the full nine innings because of the slaughter rule.

As stated, the event the Dominican Republic shines in is the WBC, when major league roster players show their patriotic pride and participate in the event. In the first WBC in 2006 they were able to advance to the medal rounds but were upset by Cuba in the semi-finals. History tells us it is the Cubans who brought baseball to the Dominican Republic so losing to them hurt.

In the 2009 WBC in a double elimination format they lost the opening game to a surprising team from the Netherlands that had a kid named Kenley Jansen as their catcher (now the closer for the Dodgers). They were able to bounce back against an outmanned Panama team to get a rematch against Netherlands with the winner advancing to the second round. The feared offensive sluggers David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Bautista, Miguel Tejeda, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz did not score their first run against the Netherlands pitching staff until the 11th inning. Unfortunately they gave up two runs in the bottom frame to be eliminated in the first round.

It was a lesson learned for the 2013 WBC. They rolled through the first round finishing undefeated. In the opening round double elimination second round game they escaped a scare by Italy, winning 5-4 after giving up four runs in the first. They defeated the United States in the second game and Puerto Rico in the final to continue undefeated. In the medal rounds they achieved some measure of revenge by defeating the Netherlands to face a surprising Puerto Rican team they had shutout in the second round. In the gold medal game, they again shutout Puerto Rico to win the championship, with Fernando Rodney shooting his arrow into the sky in celebration.

Don’t know what will happen with the Dominican Republic if the WBC decides not to continue their event.

Current World Ranking - Because of their poor showings in most international events not named the World Baseball Classic the Dominican Republic is ranked 13th among all countries playing baseball. Two teams in their pool the United States (2) and Canada (5) are ranked ahead of them while Colombia is ranked at 19th.

Roster

Pitching - Dellin Betances, Santiago Casilla, Alex Colome, Johnny Cueto, Samuel Deduno (DPP), Jumbo Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Martinez, Hector Neris, Wily Peralta (DPP0, Hansel Robles, Fernando Rodney, Enny Romero, Edinson Volquez

Designated Pitcher Pool - Fernando Abad, Bartolo Colon, Edgar Garcia, Ivan Nova, Alex Reyes (Tommy John surgery), Bryan Rodriguez, Luis Severino, Cesar Valdez

Catcher - Wellington Castillo, Alberto Rosario

Infielders - Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Villar

Outfielders - Jose Bautista, Nelson Cruz, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Mel Rojas Jr.

Strengths - Many of these players participated in the first WBC in 2006. One big absence from this roster is David Ortiz. The lineup is solid especially when you have to choose between Manny Machado or Adrian Beltre for third base. Jose Reyes is at shortstop so if the manager wants to get both bats in the lineup without using up his DH slot Manny can move to shortstop. Carlos Santana and Hanley Ramirez provide power options at first and Robinson Cano is at second. Jonathan Villar can play second or short. This is probably the strongest unit in the WBC, the Dominican Republic infield. The outfield is not too shabby either if Jose Bautista can return to his glory days. That would give them two corners with 40 plus pop with Nelson Cruz playing the other corner. Starling Marte will handle center. The bullpen looks deep with Dellin Betances and Fernando Rodney taking care of the later innings. Alex Colome and Jeurys Familia are not too shabby either. It is a luxury of riches to have four closers in the pen.

Weakness - The catching is not All Star caliber. A lot of teams would like to have a catcher with the skills of Wellington Castillo, but when compared to his teammates he falls far short of being an All Star. Mel Rojas Jr. appears to be a bit out of place on this roster. You think they could have found a bigger name to take that spot as the backup to Marte. He plays a good defensive outfield but his bat is weak. Starting pitching appears a little short, especially with the injury to Alex Reyes. He was not going to be available until the second round anyway. Their first round starters will be Johnny Cueto, Carlos Martinez and Edinson Volquez. That is still better than the options they had in 2013 when they had to go with Samuel Deduno in a second round game against the United States. In the second round they have the option of going with the veteran in Bartolo Colon or a couple of unproven youngsters in Luis Severino or Ivan Nova.

Prospects to Watch - This is a veteran team so there are not a lot of prospects here. Mel Rojas Jr. and Hansel Robles would be fringe prospects.

Expected Finish - If this team was put together on a major league team it would be favored to make the playoffs and win most of the divisions. There is no reason for them not to repeat as WBC champs, though the previous champs Japan and the always disappointing United States have rosters to match.

Top Prospects from the Dominican Republic - AL

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Myworld will start rolling out our top ten prospects from each country or region depending on how many prospects I can find for that region or country. We will start with the country that has the top prospects in baseball, the Dominican Republic. This top ten will be the Dominican players who are playing in the American League.

The number one prospects from last year Raul Mondesi, number 3 Nomar Mazara and number 5 Gary Sanchez have all graduated to the major leagues. Reynaldo Lopez and Francellis Montas made the top ten of the National League last year but were traded to the American League and have found themselves in the top ten. Below is the top ten:

1. Willy Adames SS (Rays) - The Tigers traded him to the Rays back in 2014 in the David Price trade. It appears Willy is finally ready to contribute to the Rays by mid-season in 2017. He has the defensive tools to play shortstop, a strong arm, decent range but good hands to make the routine plays. His bat should play as his walk numbers have increased each year with 74 in AA. His power is also starting to develop with 11 homeruns and a .430 slugging average. That is better than the numbers he put up last year but comparable to his 2014 season in rookie ball. The Rays have no one blocking him at short in the major leagues but Lucius Fox is lurking below him in the minors. Fox may be a bit more rangy but does not have the offensive potential of Adames. Expect Adames to be called up mid-2017 unless the Rays have issues with service time and want to keep him in AAA.

2. Francis Martes RHP (Astros) - Houston will be in a playoff race and their pitching is a little short. Frances has a live mid-90s fastball that has reached three digits lurking in the minor leagues. His curveball is also pretty impressive. Solidly built at 6′1″, 232 pounds there are no concerns about his small stature. He has the future potential to be an ace but with a good spring could start the season in the back end of the rotation. Last year he started 22 games in AA striking out a little more than one batter per inning. It might be best for his development if he started the season in AAA to build some confidence. The Astros will be in a pennant race so they will want to take their five best starters out of spring training to Houston with them.

3. Rafael Devers 3B (Red Sox) - Rafael is listed as a third baseman but his ultimate position could be first base. His bat will be more useful if he can stick at third. As he has risen up the minor league ladder he has always been one of the younger players in the league. Last year he played at High A as a 19 year old and showed he could handle the bat with a .778 OPS. As he gets older he should mature physically and his 10-12 homerun pop could transform to 20 plus. There is enough patience at the plate that a batting title could be in his future. The Red Sox can continue to be patient with him if Pablo Sandoval shows he can play third for a couple years. Rafael is ticketed for AA next year and it is hard to see him with the Red Sox until 2018. A September callup is a possibility if the Red Sox need some reinforcements for their playoff run.

4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - He does not have the arm of his father and his bad ball swinging is much tamer. This Guerrero seems more willing to take a walk with a 33/35 walk to whiff ratio. Unlike his dad the Blue Jays are trying him at third base. It is still too early to determine whether he can handle the position. He has a thick build that could expand in a couple years making a move to the outfield or first base a possibility. His bat is solid, showing good power with very little swing and miss in his at bats. Last year Vladimir played in the rookie league so he is a long way to go before he makes the Blue Jays roster.

5. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) - The Indians almost traded him to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy but Lucroy nixed the deal. He was in the midst of a 50 game hitting streak when the Indians were in the process of trading him and had been promoted from Low A to High A. When the season ended he batted 342, 99 points higher than his 2015 average. It will be interesting if he can replicate those numbers in 2017. He has a strong arm but still needs to work on the finer points of catching. Last year his power was to the gaps with 29 doubles and 11 homeruns for a .514 slugging average. He will start the 2017 season in AA and if his numbers are equal to last year expect the Indians to promote him if he can handle the defensive side of the game.

6. Jorge Mateo SS/2B (Yankees) - It was a down year for the talented Mateo. First he was suspended because he felt he should be promoted to AA even though his numbers said otherwise. Then the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres moving him to second base. The big part of Mateo’s game is his speed to create havoc on the basepaths. Last year he only stole 36 bases when compared to his 82 in 2015 so he needs to improve on that part of his game. He also seemed to sacrifice average to show off his power, hitting eight homeruns but only hitting .254. His strikeout numbers increased slightly while his walk numbers decreased. He is going to need to show more patience at the plate to get on base to take advantage of his speed. Last year Mateo showed a little inconsistency at short with 17 errors in 62 games. His arm and range does not match Torres so if anyone will move from shortstop it will be Mateo. With his speed a move to centerfield is also a possibility.

7. Reynaldo Lopez RHP (White Sox) - Reynaldo was one of three pitchers acquired from the Nationals for Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito was another pitcher that was part of that trade. While Lucas is reported to have better stuff than Reynaldo, it was Reynaldo who was able to get major league hitters out more consistently. Reynaldo only stands 6′0″ but he can still get the fastball to the plate in the mid to high 90s. He does have three solid pitches (curve and change) to make it in the starting rotation. What he needs to improve on in the major leagues is his command. While it was solid in the minor leagues he did walk 4.5 batters in the major leagues and the lack of location saw the opposition hit him at a .272 clip. If he gets the ball over the plate his stuff is too good to allow that kind of average. The White Sox are rebuilding so a good spring could see him head north in the their rotation.

8. Francellis Montas RHP (Athletics) - Myworld will always confuse the Astros Martes with the Athletics Montas. Now that they are both in the same division they may have an opportunity to pitch against each other. Montas has bounced around from the Red Sox, to the White Sox, to the Dodgers and now the Athletics. At 6′2″ and 255 pounds he is a big boy who needs to watch his conditioning. The bulk allows him to hit triple digits with his fastball. Injuries limited him to just 16 innings last year (ribs). His other pitches are a slider and change, the latter needing to improve if he hopes to make it as a starter. If the change does not progress his fastball has enough velocity he could succeed as a closer. His lack of innings last year will ensure the Athletics be patient with him this year, starting him in AA or AAA depending on his spring.

9. David Paulino RHP (Astros) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ inch height with a fastball that can hit the high 90s. What myworld does not like is the fragility of his arm. His innings have been limited because of Tommy John surgery in 2014 and other arm injuries that have followed, all the setbacks limiting his innings to less than 100. The pitches are there for him to make it as a starter (curve, slider and change) but if his arm can not take the toll of high innings counts he could be used out of the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut with one start and two relief appearances. He will probably begin the year in AAA with a major league callup depending on his success there.

10. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - The Yankees expect him to develop some power. His defense is solid with most of his 22 errors the result of poor throws. Last year he reduced his strikeout numbers while increasing his walks. If he can show 20 plus homerun power he makes consistent enough contact to hit .280 or better. Last year he drove in 83 runs and consistent 100 RBI production is possible. The Yankees currently do not have anyone blocking him at third base, though they are a team to sign free agents. Miguel should start next year in AA and with a good year a major league callup is a possibility.

Dominican Republic prospects 2016