Archive for February, 2019

Myworld Series del Caribe Team

Monday, February 11th, 2019

It is tough to come up with an All Star team of Series del Caribe players when you did not actually watch them play. Most of this assessment will be based on stats and what the player accomplished in the box score. Below are the players that made myworld’s All Star Series del Caribe Team.

Catcher - Wilken Castillo (Dominican Republic) .571 average, 4 RBIs and a 1.557 OPS

First Base - Victor Mendoza (Mexico) .375 average, .563 slugging, 5 RBIs with one homerun and a .938 OPS

Second Base - Elmer Reyes (Panama) .368 average, .632 slugging, 1.000 OPS, 5 RBIs with one homerun

Shortstop - Javy Guerra (Panama) .389 average, .722 slugging, 3 doubles and one homerun, 3 RBIs and 1.111 OPS

Third Base - David Vidal (Puerto Rico) .385 average, .529 OBA, .991 OPS

Utility - Allen Cordoba (Panama) .389 average and .450 OBA

Outfield - Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba) - .350 average, 5 RBIs
Outfield - Jilton Calderon (Panama) - .273 average, .455 slugging
Outfield - Yuniesky Larduet (Cuba) - .273 average, 4 runs scored

Starting Pitcher - Harold Arauz (Panama) 1-0, 0.90 ERA, 10 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Lazaro Blanco (Cuba) 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Nestor Cortes (Dominican Republic), 1-0, 1.80 ERA 5 innings pitched, one hit allowed

Starting Pitcher - Nestor Molina (Venezuela) 1-0, 0,00 5 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Luis Mateo (Panama) 0-0, 0.00, 7 innings pitched

Relief - Manny Corpas (Panama) 0-0, 2.25, 4 saves

Relief - Jumbo Diaz (Dominican Republic) 1-0, 0.00, 2 saves

Relief - Raidel Martinez (Cuba) 0-0, 0.00, 2 saves

Relief - Sergio Romo (Mexico) 1-0, 0.00

Panama Wins the Series del Caribe

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Panama has not won the Series del Caribe since 1950, but that is not their fault. When the Series del Caribe was first formed in 1949 they were one of the original teams who participated in the event. That ended in 1960 after Fidel Castro over ran Cuba and for ten years there was no Series del Caribe. It restarted in 1970 but Panama was not included in that new group. It was felt they were not talented enough.

The talent level for the Series del Caribe has dwindled down to the AA level at best. In years past you would have Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays play in the event. It was always to earn a few extra bucks. Now the ballplayers make too much in the major leagues to take a risk of injury, jeopardizing million dollar contracts. The talent in Panama has caught up to the Series del Caribe, or more accurately the Series del Caribe talent level has dropped down to the level in Panama.

Panama was only allowed to play because the original host Venezuela continues to struggle with upheavals and it was felt to hold the tournament there was not safe. It was the second year in a row the tournament was to be held in Venezuela and the second year it had to be moved because of violence. Last year Mexico agreed to host it at the last minute. They did want to bail out the Series del Caribe again. So it was either Panama or cancel the series. And to make it attractive to Panama they agreed to let the champions of the Panama League participate in the series.

Panama qualified for the championship by winning their pool. Cuba, despite their lack of offense won the tie breaker in their pool to face Panama in the championship. Cuba was only recently allowed to return to the Series del Caribe, but that was when they could produce name players that could attract a fan base. Most of those name players are in the major leagues now and the Cuban team is just a shell of its former self.

That shell failed to generate any offense again as Panama won the championship game 3-1. Harold Arauz silenced the Cuban bats for one run in five innings. Panama’s staunch bullpen then went to work to shut out the Cuban bats for the final four innings, Manny Corpas pitching the final inning for his fourth save of the tournament.

Panama got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a Allan Cordoba and Elmer Reyes RBI singles to take a 2-0 lead. Cuba showed a little life in the fifth on a Alfredo Despaigne double and a Carlos Benitez single to cut the lead to 2-1. An Elmer Reyes throwing error put runners on second and third with two outs but Daniel Castro popped out to first to end the threat. Cuba got only two hits after that, one of them a bunt single.

Panama scored another run in the seventh on a Rodrigo Vigil RBI single. With a runner on second and two out in the ninth Alfredo Despaigne came up to represent the tying run. He flied out to center to end the game.

Myworld will put together our all Caribe team later tonight.

Cuba to Play Panama in Series del Caribe Finals

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Cuba won when they had to beating Venezuela 3-0 on the last day to send their bracket into a three way tie with all three teams tied at 2-2. Run differential allowed Cuba to advance. Lazaro Blanco, who won the opener for Cuba pitched brilliantly again with five shutout innings to shut down the Venezuelan offense. Four different relievers shut out the Venezuelans the rest of the way with Raidel Martinez pitching the ninth to pick up the save.

Alfredo Despaigne was again the big bat for Cuba, sometimes the only bat. His RBI single in the bottom of the third drove in the first run for Cuba. A bases loaded walk to Carlos Benitez scored Despaigne for the second run of the inning. It was the last of three consecutive walks by Venezuelan pitchers. Cuba added another run in the sixth on a throwing error by the catcher after Yuniesky Larduet stole third. Larduet had scored the first run in the third inning after leading off with a single.

Cuba advancing was a surprise the way their listless offense could not get anything going but Panama advancing to the finals was the real shocker. The Puerto Ricans, the two time champions ironically were the only team eliminated from advancing to the finals on the last day and they appeared to play like it.

They collected just five hits as Oriel Caicedo limited them to just three in his 5.1 innings of work. Manny Corpas pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his third save. The only run scored in the fourth inning on a throwing error by Alexis Pantoja trying to turn a double play.

Rey Fuentes came to play getting three of the five Puerto Rican hits. Adelberto Flores pitched 6.1 solid innings but gave up the one unearned run.

So Cuba and Panama advance to the finals.

Dominicans Stay Alive

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

The Dominicans stayed alive by sending the Panamanians to their first defeat 5-3. Wilkin Castillo had the big bat for the Dominicans with two doubles. His first drove in the Dominicans first run in the fourth. His second double in the sixth drove in three runs to give the Dominicans a 4-2 lead. He finished the day with three hits, upping his Series del Caribe average to .571.

Elmer Reyes hit a solo homer for Panama in the fourth. He also drove in a run with a ground out in the first inning. The two RBIs gave Panama a quick 2-0 lead. Allen Cordoba had three hits for Panama and drove in the third run in the eighth.

Jumbo Diaz pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his second save of the tournament. The 300 pounder has been responsible for each of the three Dominican wins with two saves and one victory. There is a reason for him to be called Jumbo. His fastball also comes in at the high 90s, or used to. Myworld has not seen him pitch in some time.

Mexico kept their hopes alive with a 9-4 drubbing of Venezuela. Victor Mendoza crammed in four hits and drove in four runs. He hit a big three run homer in the sixth to turn a 5-4 lead into a rout. Rafael Martin got the win with 2.1 innings of shutout relief, giving up just one hit and striking out three.

Two big games being played today to close out the pool play. If Venezuela can beat Cuba they clinch their pool. If not Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela will be all tied at 2-2 and it will go to a tie breaker. Panama needs to beat the winless Puerto Rican team to tie the Dominicans. A loss will send them to second. Is this enough to motivate the Puerto Ricans to play? At least Cuba still has a horse in this race. Run differential will be the tie breaking formulae in both pools.

Cardinals Looking for Playoffs in 2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

The acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt is proof of that. In the 21st century the Cardinals have had only one losing season, but it has been four years since they last made the playoffs. If they are in the hunt for 2019 expect them to trade prospects for veteran players that will get them to the playoffs. They fell just outside the top ten last year so they have some prospects to trade. In 2013 they were top of the class with Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Kolton Wong, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Last year their top ten included Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader. Carson was traded to acquire Goldschmidt while O’Neil and Bader combined for 21 homeruns in the outfield and Flaherty picked up eight wins.

The player they keep waiting for is Alex Reyes. He was supposed to be in the Cardinals rotation three years ago, a year or two before Carlos Martinez. Injuries and drug suspensions have only given fans a glimpse of his prowess. The durability issues will probably restrict Alex to a bullpen role in 2019. Whether they consider expanding him to the starting rotation is probably far into the future and will depend on how his arm holds up. He can hit triple digits with his fastball and it comes with greater velocity in shorter spurts. He does have a quality curveball and change, giving him three pitches to start, but his command is still inconsistent and the long term health of the arm is still in question. Expect him to start the season in the minors and if his health holds up he should be in the Cardinals bullpen by mid-season.

Dakota Hudson saw some time in the Cardinals pen last year. He started 19 games in AAA. He will start the 2019 season in the pen and be insurance in case an injury happens to a starting pitcher. Hudson does not have overpowering stuff but has two quality breaking pitches to complement his heat. Last year he had a 18/19 walk to whiff ratio in 27 innings. That needs to improve if he wants continued success in the major leagues. His breaking stuff does induce ground balls so double plays get him out of tough spots.

Genesis Cabrera had an eye opening winter season. The lefty could provide an alternative approach to recently signed free agent Andrew Miller out of the bullpen. Last year he started 25 games with lefthanded hitters barely above the Mendoza line hitting against him. The Cardinals may promote him to AAA to start or they could insert him into the major league bullpen with a good spring. His fastball can reach the mid-90s and he locates his pitches well. Expect him to start the season in AAA in 2019 but he could be promoted quickly if the Cardinals have another need for a lefthanded arm in the bullpen.

The Cardinals always find a player who comes from nowhere to throw triple digits. Jordan Hicks came up last year. The 2019 version could be Junior Fernandez. His control is poor and his secondary pitches are not challenging, but he does throw heat. The strikeouts are not as prevalent as one would expect from one who throws so hard but he is only 21 years of age. The improvement of a second pitch or the development of another pitch could make him a break out star.

Daniel Poncedeleon gives one thoughts of the Fountain of Youth. The fact he made his major league debut last year after being beaned in the head in 2017 and having brain surgery is a miracle in itself. His stuff is more as a back end of the rotation starter. The fastball hits the mid-90s but the secondary pitches are very average. Last year he got four starts and seven relief appearances, finishing with a 2.73 ERA. In AAA the opposition hit him at a .197 clip and major leaguers also struggled batting .205. He will probably start the season in AAA but a good spring could force the issue.

On the position front third base looks solid. Nolan Gorman was their first round pick in 2018. He showed some pretty impressive power with 17 homeruns in just .237 at bats. There was a bit of a struggle after he was promoted from rookie league ball to Low A with his batting average dropping from .350 to .202. Defensively he was solid at third base. If he can stick there he could be an impact player at the position.

Elehuris Montero may not have the raw power of Gorman but his bat does carry some juice. Last year he slugged .504 with 16 homeruns sharing his time at Low and High A. At 6′3″ he may outgrow third base and his speed does not make the outfield a viable alternative. His bat will play at first but one of his best attributes is a strong arm, which would be wasted at that position. Next year he could start his season in the Florida State league with a quick promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

Delvin Perez was supposed to be the next Carlos Correa coming out of Puerto Rico. The Cardinals used a first round pick for him in 2016. His draft attractiveness dropped after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. His bat has been a big disappointment as well. In his third season he hit his first homerun but he finished with a slugging average of just .272. The defensive tools are there for him to stick at shortstop but he won’t get there if he doesn’t get the batting average farther north of the Mendoza line.

Max Schrock has bounced around with three teams. Originally drafted by the Nationals he has been traded to the Athletics and to the Cardinals. The bat sprays line drives to the gap but his lack of power and below average speed leaves him a bit one dimensional. He needs to hit .324 like he did in 2017 and not .249 as he did last year. The bat makes solid contact.

The Cardinals continue to be loaded in the outfield. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Cuban prospect Randy Arozarena. Last year his Cuban compatriot Ramon Laureano was a low level prospect for the Athletics before making a splash with them by mid-season. Randy hopes to plagiarize that story line. The bat may be a little short on power to profile well in a corner spot, but the speed exists for him to defend centerfield well. He will need injuries to decimate the Cardinal outfield to get a chance next year, but if he opens AAA hitting .396 as he did last year in AA the Cardinals will make room for his bat.

Jonatan Machado is another Cuban toiling at the lower levels of the minor leagues. His power and arm will not impress major league scouts but his speed carries a wow factor. He needs to gain strength to be able to find the gaps. Last year 16 of his 75 hits went for extra bases for a slugging average of just .291. His smallish 5′9″ frame is not a good predictor of future power to come.

Jose Adolis Garcia is a third Cuban outfielder to watch in the Cardinals system. He is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia but stands a few inches taller than him. He won the MVP in the Cuban professional league and departed for the major leagues after that. Last year he made his major league debut, hitting just .118 in 17 at bats after hitting .256 with 22 homeruns in AAA. His arm is above average making him an ideal rightfielder, something the Cardinals have in a surplus.

Andrew Knizner was a reason for the Cardinals to trade Carson Kelly. Knizner will not match the defensive tools of Kelly but at least his bat is expected to provide production. Last year he hit .313. The power was absent and at 24 years of age you have to wonder if it can develop. Defensively his arm is accurate and can stymie a running game. Andrew is a battler behind the plate.

Foreign Players in Taiwan

Friday, February 8th, 2019

The teams in Taiwan have signed their quota of three foreign players. Each team uses a 26 man roster with only two of the three foreign players allowed to play on the field at the same time. Normally, Taiwan teams load their foreign quota with pitchers but this year a position player has been signed. It does not make a lot of sense to sign two position players for one team since one of them would be required to sit when a foreign player is used as a starting pitcher. Below are the foreign players playing in Taiwan:

LaMigo Monkeys

Michael Nix
Zeke Spruill
Radhames Liz - pitched in the NBP and KBO but yet to appear in major leagues. His 95 mile per hour heat could have got him an opportunity with the Orioles but he went to Japan to play.

Uni-Lions

Josh Roenicke - Another Oriole connection. The son of Gary Roenicke.
Ryan Verdugo
Austin Bibens-Dirkx - Most foreign players who come to Taiwan have played either in the minor leagues or Independent ball. It is rare for a player to come to Taiwan a year after pitching in the major leagues (6.20 ERA and .308 opposition average).

Fubon Guardians

Mike Loree
Bryan Woodall
Henry Sosa

China Trust Brothers

Nick Additon
Mitch Lively
Eric Wood - The lone position player

A lot of the players are in their second or multiple years in Taiwan. CBLstats.com provides some good information on the Taiwan league.

Series Del Caribe will Crown a New Champion

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Junior Lake hit a walk off single in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Dominican Republic to a 5-4 win over Puerto Rico. For Puerto Rico they dropped to 0-3 ending any hope they would win a third consecutive Series del Caribe championship. The Dominican Republic improved to 2-1 but must beat Panama to stay alive for the championship match.

Anuery Taveras had tied the game for the Dominican Republic in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single. Jumbo Diaz got the win by pitching a scoreless ninth, though he did put two runners on with a walk and single. Diego Goris drove in the first Dominican run leading off the fourth with a homerun.

Puerto Rico had opportunities to score but stranded 14 runners on base. They left two runners on in the first, fourth, eighth and ninth and left the bases loaded in the fifth. They can still be spoilers with their final game against Panama.

The day game went 11 innings with Mexico virtually eliminating Cuba 3-2. In their previous loss the Cubans lost when the leadoff batter got on via an error. The misplays continued after Cuban native Dariel Alvarez struck out but reached first when the ball got past the catcher. Ramon Rios drove in Alvarez with a single.

Cuba went out meekly in the bottom of the 11th. They have had trouble generating any offense, collecting only six hits in 11 innings against the Mexican pitchers. The only two runs they scored were in the first inning on a Frederich Cepeda double and an Alfredo Despaigne double. Despaigne has driven in five of the six runs the Cubans have scored.

Mexico scored their first run on a wild pitch in the first inning. In the sixth Victor Mendoza tied the game with an RBI single. Sergio Romo retired all eight hitters he faced to get the victory, three of them by strikeouts.

For Cuba Yordanis Samon got three of the six hits for Cuba but they did not result in any runs.

The big game will pit Dominican Republic against Panama. A win by Panama would clinch their spot in the finals. Their final match is against winless Puerto Rico who they had beaten earlier. A loss to Puerto Rico would still leave them 3-1 with two victories against the Dominican Republic should they win today.

Venezuela can clinch their spot in the championship with a win over Mexico today. A loss to Mexico could result in a three way tie should Cuba beat Venezuela on the final day.

Venezuela Stays Alive and Panama Continues to Roll

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

The Cuban bats had trouble against Wilfredo Boscan, accumulating just three hits in his 6.2 innings of work as Venezuela won the pitcher’s duel 1-0. Three different relievers continued the shutout of the Cuban bats with Pedro Rodriguez getting the final three outs to pick up the save. Cuba got six strong innings from their veteran Freddy Alvarez, probably the best pitcher in Cuba not in the major leagues but the anemic Cuban bats failed to support his effort.

The two teams traded zeros for the first six innings. Cuba put runners on first and third with two outs in the second but failed to score. Venezuela perched runners on first and second with just one out but a double play ended that threat. The lone run scored in the seventh when Alexander Ayala booted a ground ball hit by Cuban native Rangel Ravelo. The Cubans chose to replace Alvarez with Yoennis Yera and he walked Luis Jimenez. Livan Moinelo replaced Yera. Juniel Querecuto, who grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and one out in the fourth chose to bunt and advanced the runners to second and third. Alejandro de Aza hit a ball deep enough in the outfield to score Rangel for the only run of the game.

Cuba never mounted a threat after that with their last six batters failing to reach base. Alfredo Despaigne, the hero of the game yesterday lined a shot into centerfield but it was caught by de Aza.

Panama continued to surprise rocking the two time defending champ Puerto Rico 8-7. They scored seven runs in the final two frames to pull out the game. Puerto Rico still rallied for one run in the bottom of the ninth but left the tying run stranded at first. Manny Corpas got the last three outs to pick up the save.

The big hit for Panama was a two run two out double by Jilton Calderon that gave Panama a 7-6 lead in the ninth. Allen Cordoba added an insurance run with his RBI single into left field.

The game changing moment for Panama is when they scored four runs after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Elmer Reyes had a two run single with the bases loaded and Javy Guerra had another big hit with a two run double that pulled Panama to within one.

Puerto Rico had a well pitched game from Ivan Maldanado, who only allowed one run in his six innings of work. The bullpen had trouble retiring Panama hitters with four different relievers coming in to pitch, all coughing up runs in less than an inning of work each. With the scored tied 1-1 after five Puerto Rico seemed to have pulled away, scoring five runs in the next two innings. At 0-2 their hopes of a three peat appears slim.

Athletics Future Looks Bright

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The last time the Athletics appeared in a World Series was in 1990. A year prior they won the World Series. In the American League only the Orioles (1983) and the Mariners (never) have a longer drought. Yet if you look at their young roster and the players in the farm system the future looks bright.

In 2015 the Athletics had the worst farm system in baseball. That has changed over the years, rising up to 12th last year. Players who made top 100 prospect lists last year include A.J. Puk, Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielen.

When the Athletics made the playoffs they usually did it with pitching. They have a pretty good one/two punch in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Luzardo was acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trades. The Nationals had drafted Luzardo in the third round despite having undergone Tommy John surgery. Jesus has blossomed with the Athletics with three top of the line pitches, a low 90s fastball that can ride the plate in the mid-90s, an excellent change and a knee buckling curve. After dominating in A ball (1.23 ERA) and AA (2.29 ERA) he had a little blip in AAA (7.31). He strikes out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a batting average south of .200 at High A and AA. Expect him to repeat in AAA to stall his service time and gain confidence in retiring higher level hitters.

A.J. Puk was poised to join the rotation last year until an elbow injury resulted in Tommy John surgery prior to the close of spring training. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 out of Florida. At 6′7″ the lefty has an intimidating presence on the mound with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can hit the high 90s. Not surprising that with his long limbs he has had issues finding the plate. His slider is a good secondary pitch but he lacks a quality third offering. This could result in a move to the bullpen, but with a quality arm like Puk that is a last resort. The 2019 season should be a rehab season as the Athletics monitor his innings. At best he could see a September callup.

The Yankees gave up on their 2015 first round pick James Kaprialian, trading him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Since being drafted in 2015 James has only pitched 29 innings, missing the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to his surgery his fastball had been clocked in the high 90s. Whether he can continue that post surgery is open to question. Good secondary offerings could have him slip in the middle of the rotation. Expect the 2019 season to be a rebuilding year and an attempt by the Athletics to give Kaprialian some innings.

Grant Holmes is another first round pick (2014) the Athletics have taken a chance on. He did not do much for the Dodgers after being a first round pick and they included him in a trade with other prospects for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. The stuff is there with a mid-90s fastball and curveball and change mix. The control can be a little spotty with walk rates near one for every two innings. Last year shoulder problems limited him to two starts. At 23 years of age entering the 2019 season the time is soon for Holmes if he wants to make a career in the major leagues.

On the offensive side there is concern they will not be able to keep Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Murray. Football has prevented him from developing his baseball tools. His speed is lightening quick, enabling him to play centerfield. The bat also shows potential for raw power, giving him an opportunity to be a rare five tool player. Despite being a quarterback his arm is not that strong, so if centerfield does not work out there is always a spot in left field. Myworld predicts the Athletics will lose Murray to the bright lights of NFL football. It is a bit more glamorous than minor league parks.

Jorge Mateo has dropped down in his prospect status but myworld still loves his tools. The Athletics just need to find a position for him, or make him a super utility player. Last year was a wasted year as he struggled at .230 but he still excited with 16 triples and 25 stolen bases. A lack of patience at the plate brings imbalance to his walk to strikeout ratio (29/139). The 2019 season could be his opportunity to make a major league roster. Jorge has sneaky power and can run with the wind.

Lazaro Armenteros was the next wave of Cuban superstar prospects. With a little more exposure some of his flaws were made more apparent. A weak arm could restrict him to left field. There are a lot of strikeouts in his swing. With those flaws comes impressive power and blazing speed that could create havoc on the basepaths. If he can make it as a power hitting centerfielder it will be a plus for Oakland.

One of the better defensive catchers in baseball is Sean Murphy. He has an arm to discourage basestealers, handles a pitching staff well and keeps the ball from rolling to the back stop. All he needs to do is hit and he will slide into the Athletics major league lineup in 2019. Another half year in AAA would be good. Expect him to be catching for the Athletics by mid-season.

Sheldon Neuse was another player the Athletics acquired from the Nationals in the Jesus Luzardo trade. Myworld thinks his line drive swing could sit him in the .300 neighborhood. The concern is third base is his best position and he will not usurp Matt Chapman from his spot. His lack of speed makes the outfield a risk. Despite his line drive swing his 172 K’s need to be reduced. That will make hitting .300 in the major leagues difficult. Expect him to be used as trade bait for a veteran player that can help the Athletics in their playoff run.

We like the name more than the tools but Skye Bolt did mash 19 homeruns last year, rising all the way to AA. He also stole 19 bases so he was one short in both areas from being a 20/20 player. The speed is there for him to play a quality centerfield. A role as a fourth outfielder could be in the cards.

Panama with the Big Upset in Series del Caribe

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The Series del Caribe has considered expanding the tournament to other countries, but one of the concerns is these other countries (Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua) would not be competitive. Panama proved this notion not so true with their 4-2 upset of the Dominican Republic last night, a day after Panama native and Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch to open the tournament. The loss dropped the Dominicans to 1-1 while Panama sits atop their division at 1-0.

Panama starter Harold Arauz shutout the Dominican bats for the first five innings, allowing just three hits. The 23 year old Panama native played for Toros del Este in the Dominican League this past winter. He signed a minor league free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals for 2019.

Panama scored first in the second inning on a homerun from Padres shortstop prospect Javy Guerra. He scored the second run in the fourth after reaching on a single and scoring on a sacrifice fly hit by Jonathan Galvez.

When Panama took out Arauz the Dominican bats were relieved. In the top of the sixth Severino Gonzalez put two runners on via a walk and an infield single. Edwin Espinal drove them both in with a single to tie the game at 2-2. The Dominicans appeared to have woken from their slumber.

The Panama bullpen, especially the smallish 5′9″ Andy Otero made sure that did not happen. Otero shut down the Dominican bats for two innings. That gave the Panama bats another opportunity to take the lead. A hit by pitch, bunt and wild pitch by Jhan Marinez put a runner on third with just one out. Rodrigo Orozco grounded a single up the middle to break a 2-2 tie. Gerald Chin added another RBI single to put up an insurance run and give Panama a 4-2 lead.

Manny Corpas came on to pitch a perfect ninth inning to complete the upset.

Cuba chose not to play in the port tournament in the Netherlands this July because they stated they felt they could not field a competitive team. For their opener in the Series del Caribe they relied on the seven shutout innings from veteran Lazaro Blanco to defeat Mexico 3-1. For Mexico it was their second loss of the tournament, diminishing any chances they have for appearing in the final.

Cuban veteran Alfredo Despaigne drove in all three runs for Cuba. He had a two run single in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. Despaigne is one of the few Cuban superstars who did not defect to the major leagues. He was a teammate of Yoenis Cespedes in Cuba and considered the better player with more power than Cespedes. His defense in left field is a bit suspect. At 32 years of age he may be too late for the major leagues, though he is now playing in the NPB in Japan.

Mexico rallied in the ninth scraping together three hits to score one run. They had the go ahead run at the plate but Agustin Murillo flied out to right to end the game. Cuban Dariel Alvarez was playing for Mexico.