Three of the 4 teams headed to the Caribbean Series are set with only the winner of the Dominican Winter League yet to be determined.
The Obregon Yaquis swept through the Pacific League finals defeating Guasave in 3 close games before demolishing them 19-0 in Game 4 to take their 2nd straight title. The Yaquis are looking for their 2nd straight Caribbean Series title after taking the crown in 2011.
The Yaquis have strengthened their roster with the addition of 8 players prior to their trip to the Dominican Republic. Added were pitchers Dan Serafini (Los Mochis), Miguel Gonzalez (Mazatlan) and Edgar Gonzalez (Hermosillo), catcher Humberto Cota (Hermosillo), infielders Oscar Robles (Mexicali), Jose Rodriguez and Jesus Lopez (both Guasave) plus outfielder Chris Roberson (Hermosillo).
They will kick off their title defense with a game on Thursday February 2nd against the winner of the Dominican League.
The Aragua Tigers defeated the La Guaira Sharks 4 games to 2 in the championship round of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League to earn a trip back to the Caribbean Series where they look to claim their 2nd title. They won their first in 2009.
La Guaira finished on top during the regular season with Aragua barely finishing over .500 with a record of 32-30.
The Tigers are led by Hector Gimenez (.266/7/23), and Edgardo Alphonzo (.267/5/29). On the hill Sergio Perez (3-1/2.47) has pitched well along with relievers Yohan Pino (5-2/1.97/12 holds) and Francisco Butto (2-2/3.38/8 saves).
The Tigers will take on the Mayaguez Indians (Puerto Rico) in the opening game of the Series at 3pm on Thursday.
The Mayaguez Indians defeated the Caguas Creoles in 8 games to win the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. The Indians are searching for their 3rd Caribbean Series title with their titles coming in 1978 and 1992.
The Indians are led by Sergio Miranda (.354 in the playoffs) and Jesus Feliciano (.300/2/7 in the playoffs). Bobby Livingston led the Indians starters on the mound with 2 wins in the playoffs. Ryan Kussmaul picked up 3 wins in the playoffs in 7 games out of the bullpen.
The Indians will take on the Aragua Tigers (Venezuela) in the first game of the Series at 3pm on Thursday.
The Leones del Escogida and the Aguilas Cibaenas are tied 4-4 in the best-of-9 series with the winner advancing to the Caribbean Series.
The series has gone back and forth with Escogida winning the first 3 games, then falling to the Aguilas in the following 3. After splitting games 7 and 8, the series will come down to a winner take all Game 9 on Monday.
Escogida is led by several current and former MLB players like Julio Borbon, Julio Lugo, Jose Constanza and Fernando Tatis. They also have a lot of talent on the hill featuring the likes of Francisco Liriano, who has struggled this winter, and Fernando Rodney.
The Aguilas feature their own hoard of current and former MLB players including Miguel Tejada, Joaquin Arias, and the torrid hitting Brandon Moss. Their pitching staff isn’t as star studded but includes Miguel Batista.
Escogida is looking to return to the Series where they won in 2010, their 3rd title. The Aguilas has won 5 Caribbean Series titles with the last in 2007.
2012 Caribbean Series Schedule
THU, Feb. 2: Aragua Tigers @ Mayaguez Indians (3pm), Obregon @ Dominican Rep. (7pm)
FRI, Feb. 3: Mayaguez Indians @ Obregon (3pm), Dominican Rep. @ Aragua Tigers (7pm)
SAT, Feb. 4: Aragua Tigers @ Obregon (3pm), Dominican Rep. @ Mayaguez Indians (7pm)
SUN, Feb. 5: Mayaguez Indians @ Aragua Tigers (3pm), Dominican Rep. @ Obregon (7pm)
MON, Feb. 6: Obregon @ Mayaguez Indians (3pm), Aragua Tigers @ Dominican Rep. (7pm)
TUE, Feb. 7: Obregon @ Aragua Tigers (3pm), Mayaguez Indians @ Dominican Rep. (7pm)
*ALL TIMES LOCAL, ALL GAMES AT ESTADIO QUISQUEYA, SANTO DOMINGO*
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.