Tag Archive | "Dominican Republic"

Dominican Republic 2017 World Baseball Classic roster


The defending champion Dominican Republic 2017 World Baseball Classic roster has been announced, and they may be on track to make it two in a row.

The Dominican will be led by the likes of Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, and Manny Machado in the infield. They have just as much talent everywhere else.

In 2013 starting pitcher Sam Deduno went 2-0 in 3 starts with a 0.69 ERA. He is back for more and should figure into the rotation for the team. Edison Volquez is also back after starting 3 times in 2013. Following up the starters is a bullpen that is full of strong arms. Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney are both back after pitching in 2013. Joining those two will be the likes of Jeurys Familia who had 51 saves a year ago with the Mets.

Another big arm in the bullpen will be Alex Colome. The young hard throwing righty savd 37 games for Tampa Bay a season ago. Dellin Betances saved 12 games a year ago for the Yankees pitching in 73 games. Over his 73 innings he struck out 126 or 15.5 per 9.

The defending champions will face off with Canada, Colombia, and the United States in Pool C in Miami, Florida. Their first game will come on Thursday March 9th at 6 PM EST versus Team Canada.

Dominican Republic 2017 World Baseball Classic Roster:

Pitchers:

Fernando Abad
Dellin Betances
Santiago Casilla
Alex Colome
Bartolo Colon
Johnny Cueto
Sam Deduno
Jumbo Diaz
Jeurys Familia
Edgar Garcia
Carlos Martinez
Hector Neris
Ivan Nova
Wily Peralta
Alex Reyes
Hansel Robles
Fernando Rodney
Bryan Rodriguez
Enny Romero
Luis Severino
Cesar Valdez
Edinson Volquez

Catchers:
Welington 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

 Dominican Republic 2017 World Baseball Classic roster

Other Rosters:
Team USA

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Mexico Wins with Walk-Off Grand Slam at Caribbean Series in Culiacan


Mexico improved to 3-0 at the 2017 Caribbean Series in Culiacan on Friday night after Sebastian Valle ended the night on a walk-off grand slam. The loss sent Venezuela to a 1-1 record.

For 8 innings the game was a pitching duel. Both starters went at least 5 innings and both only allowed a single run. Carlos Hernandez got the nod for Venezuela going 5.2 innings allowing just 5 hits. For Mexico it was Barry Enright who went 5 innings allowing just 5 hits.

The bullpens were on as well. Three relievers for Mexico, including Oliver Perez (W, 1-0), shut down the Venezuela bats for the remaining 4 innings.

Venezuela had three strong outings from its pen as well, until Pedro Rodriguez entered the game in the bottom of the 9th inning. Rodriguez never got an out.

Luis Juarez singled to start the bottom of the 9th. Ronnier Mustelier was next to reach base before Jesus Castillo walked to load the bases. Then on a 3-2 count with no outs, Sebastian Valle blasted a no doubter to left field to send Mexico home with the win.

Mexico now sits atop the standings and is assured a spot in the semifinals next Monday regardless of what happens in its final game on Sunday night against Cuba.

2017 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Wednesday, February 01:

Thursday, February 02:

Friday, February 03:

Saturday, February 04:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Puerto Rico 3:00 p.m.
  • Cuba vs. Venezuela 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 05:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Venezuela 3:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Cuba 7:00 p.m.

Monday, February 06:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.
  • TBD vs. TBD 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 07:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.

All times ET

2017 Caribbean Series Standings:

  1. Mexico 3-0
  2. Cuba 2-0
  3. Venezuela 1-1
  4. Dominican Republic 0-2
  5. Puerto Rico 0-3

Caribbean Series in Culiacan

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Venezuela and Mexico Win on Day 2 of 2017 Caribbean Series


Day 2 of the 2017 Caribbean Series saw Venezuela turn away a late inning comeback from Puerto Rico as the small island nation dropped its second straight game.

Venezuela 4, Puerto Rico 3

Venezuela jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning. After a disputed home run wound up as a double for Rene Reyes (1-for-4), Alex Romero (0-for-3) reached on a fielding error which allowed Reyes to score the first run of the game. The very next pitch was deposited in the left field stands by Jesus Flores (2-for-3) giving Venezuela a 3-0 lead.

Puerto Rico tried to rally with 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd. After two quick outs, Puerto Rico strung together 3 straight singles from David Vidal (2-for-4), Henry Ramos (1-for-4), and Ivan De Jesus (2-for-3) to score its first run of the game.

Venezuela upped the lead to 4-1 after the top of the 4th inning when Jesus Flores doubled with 2 outs. He would come around to score on a RBI single from Ronny Cedeno (2-for-4).

Puerto Rico tried to rally with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Ruben Gotay (1-for-2) walked and then David Vidal blasted a 2-run home run to left field pulling Puerto Rico to within 1 run. That is as close as they would get.

Omar Bencomo (W, 1-0) picked up the win after allowing just 1 run in 5 innings. He gave up just 4 hits and struck out 6. Hassan Pena (S, 1) picked up the save pitching a scoreless 9th inning. Adalberto Flores (L, 0-1) took the loss tossing 4 innings giving up 4 runs, 2 earned.

Mexico 7, Dominican Republic 2

Mexico jumped out quickly in the top of the 1st inning. Chris Roberson led off the game with a single to right, advanced to second on a ground out, and then scored on a single from C.J. Retherford giving Mexico a quick 1-0 lead.

But the Dominican Republic quickly tied up the game in the bottom of the 1st. Lead off hitter Ronny Rodriguez got it started by reaching on a throwing error by Mexico shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt that pulled the first baseman off the bag. That would come back to haunt Mexico after Zoilo Almonte hit a slicing line drive down the left field line for a double to score Rodriguez from first base.

The Dominican Republic took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 3rd on great base running from Ronnier Mustelier. Mustelier was on first and running on a pitch to Leury Garcia who popped it into right field. The ball fell for a single in front of the rightfielder and as the ball was tossed into second base from the outfield, Mustelier never slowed down and beat the throw home to score the go-ahead run.

However, Mexico would strike back in the top of the 5th inning. Xorge Carrillo led the inning off by getting hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt, Chris Roberson tapped back to the mound, but as pitcher Cesar Valdez was trying to throw him out at first he slipped and it was a bang bang play. Originally called out, Mexico challenged the play and the replay showed that Roberson just beat out the throw. So with runners at the corners, Jason Bourgeois came up with a big 2-run triple putting Mexico back on top 3-2.

Mexico put the game out of reach in the top of the 7th inning. After 2 quick outs, Jason Bourgeois tripled for the second time in the game. He would come home on a ground ball by Yuniesky Betancourt which was booted by Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara. That error would lead to two more runs as the next batter, C.J. Retherford, would launch a home run down the left field line to make it 6-2 Mexico.

Hector Velazquez (W, 1-0) picked up the win for Mexico. He tossed 5 innings giving up 2 runs, only 1 earned, on four hits. He struck out 7 and walked 3. Cesar Valdez (L, 0-1) took the loss going only 4.1 innings. He gave up 3 runs on six hits.

2017 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Wednesday, February 01:

Thursday, February 02:

Friday, February 03:

  • Puerto Rico vs. Cuba 5:00 p.m.
  • Venezuela vs. Mexico 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 04:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Puerto Rico 3:00 p.m.
  • Cuba vs. Venezuela 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 05:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Venezuela 3:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Cuba 7:00 p.m.

Monday, February 06:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.
  • TBD vs. TBD 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 07:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.

All times ET

2017 Caribbean Series Standings:

  1. Mexico 2-0
  2. Cuba 1-0
  3. Venezuela 1-0
  4. Dominican Republic 0-2
  5. Puerto Rico 0-2

Venezuela 2017 Caribbean Series

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Day 1 of 2017 Caribbean Series in the Books; Mexico and Cuba Win


Day 1 is in the books in the 2017 Caribbean Series. Cuba (Granma Alazanes) defeated the Dominican Republic (Tigres del Licey) 4-0 to claim the first win of the series.

Cuba jumped out in front in the top of the 1st inning and never looked back. Lead off hitter Roel Santos (2-for-4) tripled to lead off the game. He would score two batters later when Dominican catcher Webster Rivas allowed a passed ball letting Santos scamper home from third with the first run of the game.

Later in the 5th inning, Cuba would add 3 more to finish all the scoring for the game. The inning began with a ground out and then things started to go downhill from there for the Dominican Republic pitching staff. Carlos Benitez walked on 4 straight balls. Frank Morejon followed Benitez with a single to right. After a quick trip to the mound, Yoelkis Cespedes singled to load the bases.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Edgar Garcia comes in to relieve Ivan Pineyro and promptly uncorked a wild pitch to make it 2-0 Cuba. On the very next pitch Roel Santos was back again doing damage. This time he doubled to right to score both Morejon and Cespedes to make it 4-0.

That would be all that Cuba would need as Lazaro Blanco (W, 1-0) shut down the Dominican bats for 6.1 innings. He struck out 6 and gave up just 5 hits to pick up the win. Livan Moinelo (S, 1) pitched the last 2.2 innings giving up just 2 hits to pick up the save.

Ivan Pineyro (L, 0-1) would take the loss going 4.1 innings allowing all 4 runs on 4 hits.

Cuba has Thursday off and will return to the field on Friday to face Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic will try and bounce back again tomorrow night against Mexico in their second game.

Game 2 – Mexico Puerto Rico

Former Braves and Orioles farmhand Daniel Rodriguez had a no-hitter going into the 5th inning. He made it 4.2 innings before it was broken up on a dying single to center field. Mexicali Centerfielder Chris Roberson (2-for-4) almost made a great sliding catch to keep the no-no alive, but the ball bounced out of his glove before falling safely. Rodriguez, pitching at home in Culiacan, last pitched in affiliated ball in 2015.

Matching Rodriguez inning for inning was Orlando Roman for Puerto Rico who tossed 5 shutout innings before being relieved by William Oliver in the 6th.

Daniel Rodriguez was relieved by Derrick Loop (W, 1-0) in the 7th inning only to give up a solo home run from David Vidal (1-for-3) giving Puerto Rico a 1-0 lead. Vidal turned on a pitch and blasted it down the left field line for only the 2nd hit for Puerto Rico.

Mexico rallied in the bottom of the 7th putting runners at the corners with 1 out and getting a run when Puerto Rico couldn’t turn a double play. One pitch later Chris Roberson blasted a 2-run home run to left-center field putting Mexico up 3-1 after 7.

In the top of the 8th, Ivan de Jesus (2-for-3) made it 3-2 with a blast to left field off of Mexicali reliever Sergio Romo. But Yuniesky Betancourt (1-for-4) got the 2-run lead back in the bottom of the 8th with an opposite field home run making it 4-2 Mexico.

Jake Sanchez (S, 1) came in to close it down in the 9th picking up the save.

2017 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Wednesday, February 01:

Thursday, February 02:

  • Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico 5:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Dom. Rep. 9:00 p.m.

Friday, February 03:

  • Puerto Rico vs. Cuba 5:00 p.m.
  • Venezuela vs. Mexico 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 04:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Puerto Rico 3:00 p.m.
  • Cuba vs. Venezuela 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 05:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Venezuela 3:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Cuba 7:00 p.m.

Monday, February 06:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.
  • TBD vs. TBD 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 07:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.

All times ET

2017 Caribbean Series Standings:

  1. Cuba 1-0
  2. Mexico 1-0
  3. Venezuela 0-0
  4. Dominican Republic 0-1
  5. Puerto Rico 0-1

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 81-90


Yesterday we took a look at the international players from 91-100 which contained four players from across the globe. Today we will take a look at the only international player from 81-90.

International Players – 91-100

No. 90 Raimel Tapia, OF/Colorado Rockies – Tapia signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. The lefty will be 23 for this season when he will look to continue his strong hitting. He won the Pioneer League (Rookie-level) MVP in 2013. This past season he played at AAA Albuquerque where he hit .346 over 110 at bats. He spent most of the year tearing up the Eastern League where he posted a .323/.363/.450 line with 20 doubles, 5 triples, and 8 home runs. He has speed but hasn’t quite learned the art of the stolen base being only successful in 17/31 attempts last season in AA. He did make his MLB debut last September where he played in 22 games hitting .263 over 41 at bats.

Last season Tapia landed on the top 100 list at no. 71.

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Teams Set for 2017 Caribbean Series


The teams are set for the 2017 Caribbean Series to be held in Culiacan, Mexico. There will be a new club champion after the Venados de Matatlan, the 2016 winner, did not make the finals of the LMP playoffs.

Winners from the winter leagues of Mexico (LMP), Dominican Republic (LIDOM), Venezuela (LVBP), Puerto Rico (LBPRC), and Cuba play a round robin format with semifinals and finals to follow.

The teams competing are:

Dominican Republic – Tigres del Licey – The most accomplished team not only in the LIDOM with 22 titles, but also the most accomplished team in the history of the Caribbean Series with 10 titles. The Tigres last Series title was in 2008. To get back to the Series, for the first time since 2014, Licey needed all 9 games in the LIDOM Championship Series to get past the Aguilas Cibaenas.

Puerto Rico – Criollos de Caguas – The 17-time LBPRC champions, Caguas is back in the Caribbean Series for the first time since 2013. They will go in looking for their 4th Series title but the first since 1987. To get to the Series, Caguas needed 8 games to win 5-games-to-3 over Santurce.

Mexico – Aguilas de Mexicali – Winning its 4th LMP title, Mexicali last went to the Caribbean Series in 1999. It holds just a single Series title from 1986. Mexicali defeated the Caneros de los Mochis 4-2 in the LMP Championship Series to advance. They will look to keep the recent success of the LMP champions alive having won 4 of the last 6 Caribbean Series titles.

Venezuela – Aguilas del Zulia – This was the 6th LVBP Championship for Zulia, the last coming in 2000. The franchise has 2 Caribbean Series titles to its credit, but nothing since 1989. To get back to the Series this year Zulia defeated the Cardenales de Lara 4-1.

Cuba – Granma Alazanes – This was the first Serie Nacional de Beisbol or Cuban National Series title for Granma. It took 40 years for the club to claim its first title, and this will be its first trip to the Caribbean Series. Granma defeated the 2-time defending champion Ciego de Avila in the championship series sweeping them to take the title.

Total Caribbean Series Titles:

Dominican Republic 19 (last in 2012)
Puerto Rico 14 (last in 2000)
Mexico 9 (last in 2016)
Cuba 8 (last in 2015)
Venezuela 7 (last in 2009)
Panama 1 (1950) – no longer play in Caribbean Series

All games will be broadcast in Spanish on ESPN3.com

2017 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Wednesday, February 01:

  • Cuba vs. Dom. Rep. 5:00 p.m.
  • Puerto Rico vs. Mexico 10:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 02:

  • Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico 5:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Dom. Rep. 9:00 p.m.

Friday, February 03:

  • Puerto Rico vs. Cuba 5:00 p.m.
  • Venezuela vs. Mexico 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 04:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Puerto Rico 3:00 p.m.
  • Cuba vs. Venezuela 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 05:

  • Dom. Rep. vs. Venezuela 3:00 p.m.
  • Mexico vs. Cuba 7:00 p.m.

Monday, February 06:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.
  • TBD vs. TBD 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 07:

  • TBD vs. TBD 3:00 p.m.

All times ET

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Tigres del Licey win 22nd LIDOM Championship


The Liga de Beisbol Profesional de la Republica Domincana or LIDOM went a full 9 games this past week as the Tigres del Licey pulled off a 6-2 victory over the Aguilas Cibaenas to win the title. After going up 4-games-to-2, Licey fell twice as the Aguilas forced a decisive 9th game.

Going to the hill in the winner-take-all game was Cesar Valdez (W, 4-0) for Licey. Valdez tossed 5.0 shutout innings giving up just 2 hits while striking out 5. He picked up the win and held the Aguilas off long enough for the Tigres bats to come alive. For his efforts, Valdez was named MVP.

Leading just 1-0 heading into the top of the 6th, the Tigres bats exploded for 5 runs. Lead off hitter Mel Rojas Jr. (0-for-4) walked to start the inning. After Diory Hernandez (0-for-5) flew out to center, Samuel Deduno was pulled in favor of fellow reliever Juan Grullon. Grullon was rudely greeted by Engel Beltre (2-for-4) who promptly doubled to right putting runners at 2nd and 3rd. Grullon then walked Rossmel Perez to load the bases. Then to put the Tigres up on top big, Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-4) doubled to left scoring all three runners on base. And that would do it on the day for Grullon after he failed to get an out and gave up 3 runs on 2 hits.

Licey would go on to add 2 more runs in the inning to go up 6-0 before the Aguilas would add 2 runs in the bottom of the inning.

Sergio Alcantara wound up setting the stage well going 4-for-5 in the lead off spot for Licey. He drove in 2 and scored 1.

Licey now heads to Culiacan, Mexico for the 2017 Caribbean Series where they will face off with Cuba in its first match on Wednesday February 1st.

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 91-100


One of my favorite days of the year is when MLB releases its Top 100 Prospects list. I love to see which teams have the most on the list (Braves/Yankees with 7 each), and I love to see who is moving and of course the top 10.

However, one exercise that I love to do is look at the foreign players on the list. After all, most of what we cover here are foreign leagues. So I will leave the debate up to  you as to whether or not Andrew Benintendi should be no. 1 or not, and I will take a look at the foreign players on the list starting with 91-100. Each day over the next week or so we will look at another set of players from the MLB Top 100 Prospects list. In total there are 27 that come from international markets.

MLB Prospects 91-100:

No. 97 Cal Quantrill, RHP/San Diego Padres – Quantrill, out of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada) might be a name you already know. His father, Paul Quantrill, pitched in the big leagues for 14 seasons. But despite Paul’s solid career, Cal’s might overshadow dad’s one day. Cal was drafted this summer 8th overall out of Stanford University despite not pitching in 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He showed why the Padres drafted him so high late in the summer when he returned to the mound finishing the year in A-ball after a few starts in Rookie League and Low-A. While he might not project to be a no. 1 starter, he has the chance to have a long solid career with his solid three-pitch-mix. I got to see him in 2012 at the 18U World Baseball Championship in Seoul, and while he did not have the best tournament (1-1, 5.63) he did enough to impress upon me that he has a long future ahead of him.

No. 96 Jeimer Candelario, 3B,1B/Chicago Cubs – Candelario was born in New York but was raised in the Dominican Republic where his father ran a baseball training center. Signed in 2010, Candelario made his MLB debut this past July. However, he remains hopelessly blocked by 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant. A switch-hitter with some pop, and the ability to walk, he has the bat to make it in the big leagues but where will he play. He has had some time at first base as well, but is blocked there as well by Anthony Rizzo. He could possibly be moved to a corner outfield spot, or he might be trade bait later in the year should the Cubs need a piece to make a run at a second title. Jeimer moves up from no. 100 on the list in 2016.

No. 94 Richard Urena, SS/Toronto Blue Jays – Urena comes out of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. He will turn 21 in just under a month. Signed in 2012, Urena reached AA at the age of 20. After fellow Blue Jays short stop prospect Franklin Barreto was traded away in the Josh Donaldson deal, Urena appears to be the heir to the shortstop thrown north of the border. Lack of focus at times causes Urena to commit a few too many errors. He does have the range and arm to stick to shortstop and has been a switch-hitter for just three years now. Despite falling from no. 74 on the list in 2016, Urena might be ready for his MLB debut in 2018.

No. 91 Delvin Perez, SS/St. Louis Cardinals – Delvin Perez comes in this year at no. 91 on the list. A newcomer on the list, Perez was drafted just last summer (1st Rd, no. 23) out of the International Baseball Academy in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. He played in just 43 games after signing, but already showed flashes of why he is in the top 100. With the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (Rookie), Perez hit .294 with 8 doubles, 4 triples, and 12 stolen bases. Despite his good offensive showing, his defense is where he will impact the game more right now. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground defensively, and when  you add in his strong arm he will be a solid short stop where he projects to stay. However, he is already been the talk of controversy having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs prior to the draft.

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Licey and Cibaenas Fight for LIDOM Title and Spot in Caribbean Series


The Liga de Beisbol Profesional de la Republica Dominicana or the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League is wrapping up its season with the championship series. The Tigres del Licey are facing off with the Aguilas Cibaenas for the right to represent the Dominican in the Caribbean Series.

Game 1 saw the Aguilas defeat Licey 4-3. Zolio Almonte tied up the game in the 6th inning at 3 with a two-run home run off of Licey starter Yohan Flande (5.2 IP/3 ER/7 hits). Francisco Pena (1-for-3) would give the Aguilas the lead for good in the 7th inning with a RBI single to right scoring Jose Constanza (1-for-1).

However Licey bounced back after the Game 1 loss to score a victory in Game 2. Again the game was tied heading into the latter innings, this time it would be the Tigres that would come out on top.  With one out Aguilas first baseman Kennys Vargas committed an error allowing Mel Rojas Jr to reach base and Yamaico Navarro to score the go-ahead run. Diory Hernandez followed that up with a sac fly to put the lead at 4-2 where it would stay.

The two teams will look to represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series. The Aguilas have won the LIDOM Championship twenty times with the last coming in 2008. They also own five Caribbean Series titles. The Tigres del Licey are the most decorated team in LIDOM and Caribbean Series history. They own 21 LIDOM titles and a total of 10 Caribbean Series titles, the last coming in 2008 when two LIDOM teams played in the Series.

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2017 World Baseball Classic Pool C & D Preview


Yesterday we took a look at Pools A & B for the 2017 World Baseball Classic and how each team has fared in the past. Today we will take a look at Pools C & D and look at how each team got here and how they have fared in the first three installments of the WBC.

Pool C

Canada is back for its fourth time in the WBC, yet they have surprisingly never made it out of Round 1. They came really close in the first tournament after finishing pool play 2-1 with a victory over the United States losing out on a tiebreaker to the US.

The Dominican Republic is back to defend its title from 2013. After starting off with a spot in the semifinal in the initial WBC, 2009 was a disappointing tournament as they did not make it out of Round 1. However, it was quite the bounce back as the Dominican ran through the 2013 tourney undefeated to take the title.

Colombia is making its first appearance in the WBC after defeating Panama in a qualifier last year to advance. Colombia failed to qualify in 2013 losing to Panama and Brazil in the qualifier. They got a little revenge this go around keeping Panama from advancing. They are one of two teams making their first appearance.

The United States is making its fourth appearance in the WBC. A fourth place finish in 2009 is the best the USA has done so far. The no. 2 World Ranked team has failed to make it out of Round 2 two of the three times, but they look to change that this year. There has been a lot of debate on players playing or not playing, and I look forward to more of that discussion later this year when the final team is announced.

Pool D

Mexico is back again for fourth time, but this time they had to come through a qualifier to pick up their spot. Twice Mexico has made Round 2, but not since 2009. They absolutely rolled through the qualifier outscoring their opponents 25-2. Look for them to once again advance to Round 2 where anything can happen.

Italy is back after a great run in 2013. This is their fourth appearance, but they are still looking for their first medal. Italy defeated both Mexico and Canada to advance in 2013. Their path this time goes through three Latin American teams, but I like their chances.

Venezuela is back for the fourth straight time. In 2009, they finished third defeating the USA in the semifinal. However, after that great run in ’09 they did not advance out of Round 1 in 2013 losing to both the Dominican and Puerto Rico. This might be the most wide open pool.

Puerto Rico is back again after a strong 2013 WBC finishing second to the Dominican. Each time they have made it to at least Round 2, and they stand poised to make another run at that as well. This will be another interesting roster to see once it is finalized.

There are at least three teams in each pool that stand a strong chance to advance to Round 2 which makes this tournament very exciting. I am looking forward to some upsets and surprise teams, but we will get into more of that once the rosters are announced.

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Caribbean Series: Mexico and Cuba Advance to Final


The final of the 2015 Caribbean Series is set and the team that went 4-0 in the round robin didn’t make it, but the team that went 1-3 did.

Mexico was the first team to punch their ticket to the final with a 5-4 win over the Dominican Republic. It was a close game with the Dominican having the tying run at third base with just one out in the bottom of the ninth, but they were unable to tie it up.

Mexico jumped out to a 4-0 lead after scoring three runs in the second and adding one more in the third. With a throwing error by Dominican third baseman Hector Gomez, Mexico would score three unearned runs in the second. An inning later Mexico would get one more after Joey Meneses (1-for-3) singled with two outs. He moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a Russell Branyan (1-for-2) RBI single.

After adding a fifth unanswered run, the Dominican Republic finally fought back and fight back they did. In the sixth inning the Dominican finally got on the board with a pair of runs to make it 5-2. In a turn of fate, Hector Gomez reached on a throwing error with two outs allowing Yefri Perez (1-for-2) to score the first run. Gomez wound up at third after the error and would score one hitter later on a Elian Herrera (1-for-4) RBI single.

The Dominican would add a single run in the eighth and ninth but come up short as Mexico avenged their 3-2 loss on Thursday to advance to the finals on Sunday. Terance Marin picked up the win tossing six innings allowing just two unearned runs. Jay Jackson picked up the save.

Full Box Score

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament, previously undefeated Venezuela fell to Cuba. Venezuela jumped out to a 4-0 lead with a run in the third and three runs in the fourth. A couple of walks and a RBI single from Ehire Adrianza (1-for-5) to take a 1-0 lead. With three more in the fourth it looked like Venezuela would stay undefeated.

Then the sixth inning came. Cuba would get three runs to get itself back in the game. Yulieski Gourriel (2-for-5) singled followed by a single from Alfredo Despaigne (1-for-5). Two batters later Frederich Cepeda (4-for-5) tripled in both Gourriel and Despaigne and would score himself on a throwing error making it 4-3.

Cuba would explode for five more runs in the seventh inning. Cepeda was there once again with the big hit. He would clear the bases driving in three with a one out double.

Norge Ruiz picked up the win with 4.1 innings of relief. He allowed five hits and no runs. Amalio Diaz took the loss going just a third of an inning in relief.

The win puts Cuba in the final against Mexico at 6:30 pm on Sunday.

Full Box Score

2015 Caribbean Series Schedule

Monday February 2nd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Mexico 2
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2 Venezuela 5

Tuesday February 3rd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Dominican Republic 6
6:30 pm Mexico 3, Puerto Rico 2

Wednesday February 4th
12:05 pm Dominican Republic 5, Venezuela 6
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2, Cuba 3

Thursday February 5th
12:05 pm Venezuela 6, Cuba 2
6:30 pm Mexico 2, Dominican Republic 3

Friday February 6th
12:05 pm Mexico 2, Venezuela 4
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 3, Dominican Republic 2

Saturday February 7th
12:05 pm Mexico 5, Dominican Republic 4
6:30 pm Cuba 8, Venezuela 4

Sunday February 8th
6:30 pm Cuba vs. Mexico

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Caribbean Series: Puerto Picks Up Walk Off Win; Semifinals Set


The round robin portion of the 2015 Caribbean Series is finished and the semifinals start tomorrow. In the last day of round robin games, Venezuela finished off Mexico 4-2 to finish with a perfect 4-0 record. They will have the #1 seed in the semifinals and play Cuba on Saturday.

The game was a good one. Mexico took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Rico Noel (1-for-3) led off the game with a single to center field, then stole second. Then with one out, Eric Farris (2-for-3) singled to drive in Neol and put Mexico up quickly.

That was all Mexico would get off Venezuela starter Junior Guerra who tossed five innings. Guerra allowed only three hits while striking out seven. However once Guerra was pulled Mexico struck again. Once again Farris was in the middle of things. Farris led off the sixth inning with a single and soon Mexico had the bases loaded with no outs. Carlos Silva, who didn’t get an out, was pulled in favor of Jean Toledo. Toledo quickly gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 Mexico. But Toledo settled down and got a double play ground ball to limit the damage.

Venezuela quickly struck back to tie the game at 2-2. Orlando Arcia singled to start off the bottom half of the inning and would come around a batter later on a Alexi Amarista (1-for-3) RBI double. Two batters later Felix Perez (1-for-3) doubled in Amarista to tie the game.

The game would stay tied until the bottom of the eighth when Venezuela would again plate two runs. This time the big blow came with two outs on a two-run home run by Oswaldo Arcia (1-for-3). The Arcia home run came off of Mexico reliever Manny Barreda who took the loss. Amalio Diaz picked up the win with 0.2 innings of relief work. Hassan Pena finished off the game picking up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Full Box Score

In the final game of the round robin, host Puerto Rico finally got on the board with a walk-off win over Dominican Republic. It was a back-and-forth game with Puerto Rico jumping out on top early with a run in the bottom of the third inning on an Enrique Hernandez (1-for-4) RBI single.

The Dominican Republic came back to tie the game in the top of the fifth on a solo home run by Maikel Franco (2-for-4). Franco would drive in both of the Dominican’s runs in the game.

The tie was not long lived though as Puerto Rico came right back in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead on a Reymond Fuentes (1-for-4) RBI single. Luis Figueroa (2-for-3) led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second before Fuentes gave them the lead.

The game would stay 2-1 until the top of the ninth when the Dominican came back once again to tie the game. After the first two batters struck out, Elian Herrera (1-for-3) doubled, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on a Franco RBI single.

Some excitement for the hometown team came in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, A.J. Jiminez walked and was pinch run for by “Ozzie” Osvaldo Martinez. Then on a 0-2 count, Daniel Ortiz (1-for-4) tripled to left field scoring Martinez from first giving Puerto Rico a walk-off win in front of the home crowd.

Tony Pena Jr. took the loss giving up the run in the bottom of the ninth. Fernando Cabrera gave up the tying run in the top of the ninth blowing the save, but earned the win courtesy of Ortiz’s RBI triple.

Full Box Score

2015 Caribbean Series Schedule

Monday February 2nd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Mexico 2
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2 Venezuela 5

Tuesday February 3rd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Dominican Republic 6
6:30 pm Mexico 3, Puerto Rico 2

Wednesday February 4th
12:05 pm Dominican Republic 5, Venezuela 6
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2, Cuba 3

Thursday February 5th
12:05 pm Venezuela 6, Cuba 2
6:30 pm Mexico 2, Dominican Republic 3

Friday February 6th
12:05 pm Mexico 2, Venezuela 4
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 3, Dominican Republic 2

Saturday February 7th
12:05 pm Mexico vs. Dominican Republic
6:30 pm Cuba vs. Venezuela

Sunday February 8th
6:30 pm TBD

2015 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Venezuela 4-0
2. Dominican Republic 2-2
3. Mexico 2-2
4. Cuba 1-3
5. Puerto Rico 1-3

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Caribbean Series: Dominican Republic with Walks Off Win, Helps Cuba Advance


There is just one day left in the 2015 Caribbean Series first round. Venezuela is on to the next round after starting off 3-0. Venezuela kicked off day four of the tournament with a 6-2 win over Cuba. Cuba was aided by a later win in the day from the Dominican Republic helping them to advance and sending host Puerto Rico home.

Venezuela used a four run third inning to put the game out of reach and a strong outing from Cesar Valdez. Valdez went seven strong innings giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out eight. Both runs came on solo home runs.

Alexander Malleta (2-for-4) homered in the second inning to put Cuba on the board. Luis Valdes (1-for-4) also homered in the seventh. Yoanni Yera took the loss tossing just 2.1 innings allowing four runs on six hits.

Balbino Fuenmayor (3-for-4) homered and drove in a pair of runs to lead Venezuela’s offensive attack. Gorkys Hernandez (2-for-5) tripled and scored a run from the lead off spot, while Jose Gil (2-for-4) scored twice.

Full Box Score

In Game 2 of the day, the Dominican Republic picked up a 3-2 win over Mexico. With the win, Cuba advanced to the semifinals and Puerto Rico’s run was ended.

Mexico held the lead for almost the entire game. Jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the third, Amilcar Gaxiola pitched five shutout innings. Two more pitchers came in in relief to hold the Dominican Republic scoreless for another two innings. The Dominican did not get on the board until the eighth an inning after Mexico made it 2-0.

Down 2-0, the Dominican loaded the bases with no outs but could only scratch one run across the board. And it came on a wild pitch by Jesus Castillo. They would walk off in the ninth inning on a Elian Herrera (2-for-5) RBI single scoring Leury Garcia (2-for-5).

Josh Lueke picked up the win in relief for the Dominican. While Oscar Villarreal took the loss giving up two runs on three hits in just 0.2 innings.

Full Box Score

2015 Caribbean Series Schedule

Monday February 2nd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Mexico 2
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2 Venezuela 5

Tuesday February 3rd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Dominican Republic 6
6:30 pm Mexico 3, Puerto Rico 2

Wednesday February 4th
12:05 pm Dominican Republic 5, Venezuela 6
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2, Cuba 3

Thursday February 5th
12:05 pm Venezuela 6, Cuba 2
6:30 pm Mexico 2, Dominican Republic 3

Friday February 6th
12:05 pm Mexico vs. Venezuela
6:30 pm Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic

Saturday February 7th
12:05 pm TBD
6:30 pm TBD

Sunday February 8th
6:30 pm TBD

2015 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Venezuela 3-0
2. Dominican Republic 2-1
3. Mexico 2-1
4. Cuba 1-3
5. Puerto Rico 0-3

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Caribbean Series: Day Two Recap


Day 2 of the 2015 Caribbean Series is in the books with Mexico winning again and Cuba falling into a deep hole by losing its second straight game.

The first game of the day saw the Dominican Republic in its first action of the tournament downing Cuba 6-1. The game was close until the Dominican broke it open in the sixth inning.

The big blow for the Dominican came in the sixth inning when Willy Garcia (AA PIT) hit a two-run home run off of Cuban reliever Jonder Martinez. Garcia would finish the game 3-for-4. Leury Garcia (CHW) chipped in with three hits as well going 3-for-5.

Rafael Perez pitched well for the Dominican going 5.1 scoreless innings allowing just six hits. Five relievers finished off the game holding Cuba to just one run.

Norge Ruiz took the loss for Cuba. Offensively Yulieski Gourriel (NPB Yokohama) had another good game going 2-for-4. Luis La O went 3-for-3 and Dainer Moreir drove in the only run going 2-for-4.

Full Box Score

Game 2 of the day was a good one. A back-and-forth affair with Mexico pulling out the 3-2 win over host Puerto Rico. Mexico took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh inning just after Enrique Hernandez (MIA) tied up the game with a solo home run in the sixth.

Mexico starter Francisco Campos did not last long going only 1.2 innings giving up four hits and one run before being pulled. Juan Delgadillo picked up the win tossing four innings in relief. He gave up just one run on two hits. Oscar Villarreal picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Full Box Score

2015 Caribbean Series Schedule

Monday February 2nd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Mexico 2
6:30 pm Puerto Rico 2 Venezuela 5

Tuesday February 3rd
12:05 pm Cuba 1, Dominican Republic 6
6:30 pm Mexico 3, Puerto Rico 2

Wednesday February 4th
12:05 pm Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela
6:30 pm Puerto Rico vs. Cuba

Thursday February 5th
12:05 pm Venezuela vs. Cuba
6:30 pm Mexico vs. Dominican Republic

Friday February 6th
12:05 pm Mexico vs. Venezuela
6:30 pm Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic

Saturday February 7th
12:05 pm TBD
6:30 pm TBD

Sunday February 8th
6:30 pm TBD

2015 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Mexico 2-0
2. Venezuela 1-0
3. Dominican Republic 1-0
4. Puerto Rico 0-2
5. Cuba 0-2

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Teams Set for 2015 Caribbean Series in San Juan, Puerto Rico


The 2015 Caribbean Series will begin in just a few short days in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The series will be held at Hiram Bithorn Stadium which may be familiar to many of you since the Montreal Expos played part of their home games there in 2003 and 2004 before moving to Washington D.C. It has also hosted many other events including parts of the World Baseball Classic and a regular season series between the New York Mets and Florida Marlins in 2010.

The tournament will follow the format with two phases. The first phase will last from February 2-6 and consist of a single round-robin competition. The standings will then be decided after this round and the fifth placed team will be eliminated. The top four will continue on to play a semifinal and final round the following two days.

The field is set and ready to go. Here are the teams that will be participating in this years Caribbean Series.

Mexico – Tomateros de Culiacan – Culiacan has not been here for eleven years but they return after defeating the Charros de Jalisco in the championship. They are looking for their third Series championship having won in 2002 and 1996.

Dominican Republic – Gigantes del Cibao – This is their first Dominican championship having finished as runner-ups three separate times. They look to bring the title back to the Dominican after a two year absence.

Cuba – Vegueros de Pinar del Rio – The Vegueros won the Cuban National Series 53 last year. The league runs too long for the current champion to participate in the Caribbean Series, so last year’s winner competes. This was their fourth Cuban championship.

Puerto Rico – Cangrejeros de Santurce – The Cangrejeros will host the tournament in their home park after winning their thirteenth championship. They have won five Caribbean Series titles including the last for their country in 2000.

Venezuela – Caribes de Anzoategui – The Caribes swept through the LVBP winning every phase to earn a trip back to the Caribbean Series where they last competed in 2011. They are looking for their first Caribbean Series championship and the first for Venezuela since 2009.

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Cuba Wins 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games


VERACRUZ, Mexico – Cuba, No. 3 in the world, defeated No. 18 Nicaragua 9-3 in the championship of the Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) to regain its title. It was Cuba’s 15th title in 18 attempts at the CACG.

New reforms in Cuba allowed several players return after playing professionally in Japan. Three national team players, Alfredo Despaigne, Frederich Cepeda and Yulieski Gourriel, returned after the end of the NPB season to play for Cuba and help lead them to the title. The players were given special permission to play in Japan if they returned to the national team after the end of the season in Japan.

Defending CACG champions the Dominican Republic finished off Puerto Rico 8-1 in the bronze medal game.

Mexico got a much needed 5th place which vaults them to 12th in the final international world rankings of the year. This allows them to play in the inaugural Premier 12 Pro Baseball World Championships in 2015. The new tournament will be hosted by Chinese Taipei next November.

FINAL STANDINGS 

1. Cuba
2. Nicaragua
3. Dominican Republic
4. Puerto Rico
5. Mexico
6. Venezuela
7. Panama
8. Guatemala

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 61-70


Yesterday we looked at the international players ranking 71-80 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects List. Today we look at the next 10 spots.

In case you missed the others you can find them here:

#’s 71-80

#’s 81-90

#’s 91-100

Wily Peralta, rhp, MIL – #69

Peralta hails from Samana, Dominican Republic and is slated to be the Milwaukee Brewers 5th starter to open the 2013 season. He got a taste of the Bigs last season pitching in six games with five starts. In those six games, Peralta went 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA over 29.0 innings.

He spent most of the 2012 season in Triple-A Nashville before getting the call. He has had some flashes of brilliance over his short minor league career, but he will go through some growing pains in his first season as a full-time MLB starter. He has struggled at times with his control walking too many hitters and will need to work on that to be an effective pitcher at the big league level.

He is a big guy at 6’1″, 245 lbs and throws hard. He has a career 8.54 SO/9 so he will get his fair share of strikeouts. He also has a good slider and had the top rated slider in the Brewers system in 2012.

Alen Hanson, ss, PIT – #61

Hanson is a young, 20-years old, shortstop out of La Romana, Dominican Republic. He spent 2012 with Low-A West Virginia last season and had a good year. In 124 games he posted a .309/.374/.482 line with 16 home runs and 35 stolen bases.

He has a slim frame at 5’11″/165 but he has shown power and speed which could prove to be a great asset down the line. He was rated at the fastest baserunner  in the Pirates system after the 2011 season by Baseball America and was named the Most Exciting Player in the South Atlantic League in 2012.

Look for him to move up to the Florida State League in 2013. He still has a few things to iron out including cutting down on his 105 strikeouts from 2012 along with learning the art of stealing a base better as he got thrown out 19 times last season.

He is a toolsy player that is exciting and young. Look for him to stay at shortstop until he proves he can’t play there.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #51-60.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 71-80


Before the World Baseball Classic we took a look at some of the international players on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect List. If you missed those, you can find #’s 91-100 here and #’s 81-90 here. Today we pick up where we left off with #’s 71-80.

Didi Gregorius, ss, ARI – #80

Hailing from Amsterdam, Gregorius was signed out of the Netherlands in 2007 as a free agent by the Cincinnati Reds. At age 18 in the Gulf Coast League, he hit just .155 in 97 at bats, but he didn’t give up there and last season got a taste of the Major Leagues.

He is a defensive middle infielder who was ranked at the #5 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization after the 2012 season. He was a part of the three team deal that saw the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks swapping players in December 2012. He is considered one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. It looks as though he will start the year at Triple-A Reno, but look for him to make an impact very soon at the big league level.

Luis Heredia, rhp, PIT – #78

Heredia, who was born in Mexico, is only 18 years old. He pitched the 2012 season in short-season A ball in the New York-Penn League for State College. In 14 starts Heredia was 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA.

Heredia signed in 2006 as a non-drafted free agent receiving a huge $2.6 million bonus from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a huge frame at 6′ 6″ and 205 lbs, but he is still growing physically at only 18 years old.

He throws hard reaching 96 on the gun, but usually sits in the low 90s. He has good control so far, but he is still young and working on improving not only his fastball but his secondary pitches as well. He has huge upside, but only time will tell.

Look for him to start the year in Low-A ball with the possibility of moving up depending on his results.

Marcell Ozuna, of, MIA – #75

Ozuna, a power hitting outfielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, blasted 24 long balls in 2012 in High-A Jupiter in the Florida State League. He also exhibits another sought after trait for an outfielder, speed. He stole 17 bases in 2011 and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. Another tool he has is a strong arm. He has been rated with the best outfield arm in the Marlins system the past three seasons.

However, Ozuna will need to identify pitches better if he wants to continue up the ladder. He has strikeout totals of 116 and 121 the last two seasons, but he is still learning. One thing is for sure, when he hits the ball he hits it with authority.

Look for the 22-year old to spend most of the season in Double-A Jacksonville for the Marlins. He is the Marlins #5 prospect.

Avisail Garcia, of, DET – #74

The 21-year old outfielder from Venezuela got a taste of the big leagues last season with Detroit making the jump from Double-A Erie. And when he got the call, he excelled. In 23 games, he hit .319 in 47 at bats.

He is a solid defensive outfielder with a good arm. Baseball America rated him as the best outfield arm in the Tigers farm system the past two seasons. He has some power and speed and could turn into quite a threat in the Tigers lineup.

Look for Garcia to start the year in Triple-A. A heel contusion put him on the DL a few days ago, so he is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #61-70.

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Dominican Republic Claims First World Baseball Classic Title


Dominican Republic Claims Second World Title

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

The Dominican Republic used its patented blend of pitching, athleticism, and timely hitting to shut out Puerto Rico 3-0 in the 2013 World Baseball Classic championship game. The team did so in a record-setting way, winning all eight of their games to become the first undefeated WBC champs. The world title was the first for the Dominicans since the 1948 World Cup.

The game was almost washed out in the early innings, as rain poured down beginning in the second frame and lasting for over an hour. As it was the final contest of the Classic, tournament officials were eager to get in the game, but until the top of the fourth it looked like it would be a rain-shortened game. The weather became more favourable about halfway through the matchup and no delay was necessary.

Sam Deduno, who has only six career big league victories, dominated on the hill for the victors, never allowing Puerto Rico to stage any kind of threat. Deduno gave up a hit to AngelPagan to start the game and he advanced to second on a sacrifice, but Deduno struck out Carlos Beltran swinging and Yadier Molina went down looking.

Giancarlo Alvarado did not look nearly so sharp for Puerto Rico. Jose Reyes greeted the journeyman right-hander with a booming double into the right centre field alley and was bunted to third by Erick Aybar. RobinsonCanóo who came into the contest hitting .517 with a 1.410 OPS, was intentionally walked to put two runners on.

The move turned out to be a mistake by Puerto Rican manager Edwin Rodriguez, who had managed so superlatively throughout the Classic. Edwin Encarnacion, who had not connected for an extra-base hit in seven games, crushed a double to deep right centre and both runners scored.

Alvarado then threw a wild pitch, but got two consecutive flyouts to escape without further damage. With a 2-0 advantage, however, Deduno and the Dominicans coasted for the remaining nine innings.

Deduno hurled five innings and gave up only two hits and three free passes. Using his wicked hook and a 93-mph/150 kmh fastball with incredible movement, he mowed down five batters and set down seven consecutive batters are the Pagán’s leadoff safety. He finished the WBC with a 0.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts in 13 innings.

Alvarado was done after one, and Rodríguez inserted Hiram Burgos, who had thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings in the tourney. That move turned out to be the right one, as Burgos immediately got to work, needing only 10 pitches to register a scoreless second.

Burgos, a standout Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect, would match Deduno’s zeroes until the fifth. After his fourth strikeout to start the frame, Alejandro de Aza dropped a clinical bunt single down the third base line and beat the throw by a step. Reyes hit a soft groundball to Irving Falu at second base as de Aza motored to second.

Rather than risk losing both outs, Falú did not try to tag de Aza and instead opted to throw out Reyes. With two down, Aybar roped a two-bagger into the right field corner to plate the Dominicans’ third run of the game. The mental mistake almost certainly added to Puerto Rico’s deficit.

Dominican manager Tony Pena removed Deduno after five, entrusting the three-run lead to his dominant bullpen. Octavio Dotel threw a 1-2-3 sixth, and the Dominicans threatened again in the latter half of the frame.

With two down, Nelson Cruz ripped his fourth double of the tournament, tying him with Canó for the lead in that category. Carlos Santana worked his ninth free pass, tops among all players, and Burgos’ night was over.

Rodríguez inserted Jose de la Torre, who once more impressed. The Red Sox minor leaguer got the third out on strikes to keep Puerto Rico close. An inning later, and it was Xavier Cedeno who worked out of a jam after Reyes blasted another ball to the gap in right field, legging out a triple this time. Cedeño got Canó for the third out.

Puerto Rico had a runner on base in the final three innings, but could do nothing against the shutdown Dominican ‘pen. Pedro Strop got out of a two on, no out jam in the seventh with two strikeouts and a popout to end the only real chance for Puerto Rico, and Santiago Casilla struck out one in a scoreless eighth.

Fernando Rodney came on to pitch the ninth and upped his save records by one with an easy final frame. He recorded two strikeouts to earn his seventh save of the WBC and eighth of his career. The formermark may never be broken in the current format, as the Dominicans are only of only two teams (Japan, 2009) to have ever won seven games in one tournament.

The Dominican Republic finished the World Baseball Classic with an 8-0 record, the most wins in a tournament and the only undefeated record. It is now 14-4 in the tournament all-time, which ties South Korea for second-most victories and sets the mark for best winning percentage. The nation should shoot up the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) rankings about five spots from their current No. 13 ranking.

Reyes and Aybar led the team in the final game with two hits apiece as the team accrued only eight, though five went for extra bases. Canó was tabbed the World Baseball Classic MVP after a performance that included a .469 batting average, .514 OBP, and .781 slugging percentage. He led the tournament in four categories, including hits (15) and total bases (25).

Deduno improved to 2-0, while Alvarado dropped to 2-1. Deduno and the bullpen held Puerto Rico to only three hits after surrendering four the night before. Puerto Rico was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base, striking out 10 times.

Puerto Rico should rise from No. 12 to the ninths spot in the IBAF charts thanks to its 5-4 performance, especially since three of those loses came to the victorious Dominican Republic. Its second-place finish is its best in a global tournament since a silver medal in the 1976 World Cup.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of the 2013 Classic and future editions, including the announcement of the All-World Team, the qualifying rounds for 2017, and much more.

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WBC: Dominican Downs the Dutch; Will Face Puerto Rico in Championship


Dominican Republic Advances to WBC Final

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

The World Baseball Classic championship game will have a distinctly Caribbean flavour this year. The Dominican Republic fought off a gallant Dutch side to earn a 4-1 semifinal round victory and advance to the title match versus Puerto Rico. The undefeated Dominicans received a strong start from Edinson Volquez, who teamed up with three relievers on a four-hitter.

The Netherlands struck first in the win-or-go-home contest. Vólquez exhibited his usual first inning control problems, walking Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar to start the game. They advanced on a ground ball and Simmons scored on a tapper to short by Wladimir Balentien.

Diegomar Markwell, who induced a number of key grounders in his last start, also against a power-hitting lineup in Cuba, started off well for the Orange. The southpaw gave up a hit to Robinson Cano in the inning, extending the Dominican second baseman’s streak to seven games, but was otherwise untouched.

Both starters matched zeroes through the next three frames. Vólquez, in particular, looked strong, retiring 11 batters consecutively beginning in the first frame. The streak ended with two outs in the fourth when Andruw Jones had the Netherlands’ first hit of the game.

Markwell was solid, picking off a batter in the second and getting out of the third after Miguel Tejada forgot to check the scoreboard before popping up a bunt with two down. The veteran Dutch pitcher finally ran into trouble in the fifth, though.

With one out, Markwell gave up back-to-back doubles to Carlos Santana and Moises Sierra, who had made a spectacular leaping catch on a fly ball that landed two seats into the stands in left field to end the first inning. Markwell registered the next out, but needed eight pitches to get it and the hurler was clearly tiring by the time he faced José Reyes.

The Dominican leadoff hitter worked the count full before blooping a single just over Markwell’s head that scored Sierra with the second run in the inning. Markwell stayed in to face Tejada, who stroked another hit over second base and the Dominicans continued to rally.

With Canó, a left-handed hitter, at the plate, Netherlands skipper Hensley Meulens pulled Markwell, who by WBC pitch restrictions could have faced the slugger as his last batter. Meulens inserted right-hander Tom Stuifbergen, who threw a wild pitch to score an elated Reyes.

Tejada moved to second, and with first now open, Stuifbergen gave Canó an intentional pass. That set the stage for Edwin Encarnacion to plate Tejada with yet another one-base hit to centre. With two outs, Canó was hustling on the play and tried to advance to third on the shallow single, but Roger Bernadina gunned him down with a perfect strike to Jonathan Schoop at third.

The damage was done, however, and Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena turned the ball over to his dominant bullpen. Kelvin Herrera pumped in 98-mph/158-kmh fastballs in scoreless sixth and seventh innings, working around a double to Balentien in the former.

Peña’s hitters were unable to put together another rally in the game, and with the score still 4-1, Fernando Rodney entered to pitch the ninth. The Classic record-holder added another save to the books with a 1-2-3, two-strikeout final frame and his teammates flooded the mound to congratulate him.

Vólquez earned his first win of the WBC with five innings of one-run ball. He gave up two hits and a pair of walks, striking out five. Herrera struck out three in two scoreless frames and Strop tossed a scoreless eighth. Rodney nailed down his sixth save, a Classic record for tournament and career.

Markwell fell to 2-1 in the Classic and was charged with all four Dominican runs on six hits and one base on balls. He threw 4 2/3 innings and did not strike out a batter. Stuifbergen, Leon Boyd, and Loek Van Mil finished off the game.

Dominican pitching scattered three free passes and four safeties over its nine innings. The Orange struck out 10 times and was hitless with runners on base. The victors collected nine hits and reached base 12 times while only whiffing once. Reyes and Tejada both had two hits for Peña, while Canó reached base in three plate appearances. The club was 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The Netherlands failed in its bid to defend its world title, achieved in 2011. Still, the fourth-place finish is the best-ever by a European nation in the WBC. The Dominicans also earned revenge after the Dutch beat them twice in the 2009 Classic to prevent the team from advancing out of the first round.

With Japan, the two-time World Baseball Classic champion, also eliminated, this year’s title game will be the first all-Caribbean world title game since 1990, when Cuba defeated Nicaragua. Both the Dominican Republic (1948) and Puerto Rico (1951) last won a world title more than 60 years ago. Those two world championships are the only two times that Caribbean teams have met to crown a champion without Cuba represented in the game.

The Dominican Republic is the first team ever to win its first seven games in a Classic. The only other squad that was undefeated after two rounds, Korea, lost in the 2006 semifinals. Puerto Rico has earned its trip to the final the hard way, staving off elimination in the second round. They are 5-3.

The two Caribbean heavyweights will contest the world championship on Mar. 19 at 8 p.m. EST in AT&T Park in San Francisco. Tune in for all the coverage of the World Baseball Classic’s final game of 2013 and continued analysis after the new champion is crowned.

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WBC: Dominican Republic vs Netherlands Pitching Match Up


The Dominican Republic is looking for a little revenge on Monday night in the World Baseball Classic. In 2009, the Netherlands bounced the Dominican out of the first round after upsetting them twice. This go around the teams are much different. But who will they both be starting on Monday?

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic will give Edinson Volquez the start. He has made two starts so far in the WBC. His first start came against Venezuela where he only pitched one inning due to a 50-minute rain delay. His next start came against Italy. In that start he pitched 4.1 innings but struggled at the start.

In the first inning against Italy, he walked the first three hitters. He would go on to give up four runs in the first inning but settled down after that.

He will look to have a strong start in this game against a very good hitting Netherlands team.

Netherlands

The Dutch are starting their top starter on Monday, Diegomar Markwell.

Markwell has won both of his starts and pitched a total of 10 innings so far. Over those 10 innings he has giving up one run for an ERA of 0.90. He has done a great job getting ground ball outs and keeping the ball in the park. He will need to do more of that on Monday if he hopes to keep the Dutch in the game.

The left-handed pitches is the cousin of teammate Andruw Jones. After spending a few years in the minor leagues, Markwell has done quite well in the leagues of Europe.

In 2012, he pitched in the Dutch Major League as was brilliant. He compiled an 11-1 record and an ERA of just 1.34 pitching in just over 80 innings for the Neptunus Rotterdam.

So far he has beaten South Korea and Cuba and now turns his sights toward the Dominican Republic.

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World Baseball Classic Finals Preview: Dominican Republic


In our final preview of the semifinal teams, we take a look at what many may consider to be the favorite in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic

WBC History

In 2006, the Dominican Republic rolled through the first round undefeated. In Round 2, they finished 2-1 and continued onto the semifinal round where they lost to the eventual runner-up Cuba. The next Classic in 2009 was a complete different story and a huge disappointment. They were bounced out of the 2009 Classic after losing twice to the Netherlands in Round 1.

This go around they are back stronger than ever looking for their first title. So far in 2013, they have gone undefeated. Now they have a chance at revenge for the pair of losses the Netherlands put on them in ’09.

The Hitters

This is an absolute stacked lineup full of MLB All-Stars. Robinson Cano has led the team and has simply been on fire. He has posted a ling of .519/.519/.889 so far including two home runs.

Joining Cano in the lineup are Carlos Santana (.313/.542/.688) and Nelson Cruz (.360/.385/.480). Not everyone in the lineup is hitting well though. Jose Reyes (.259), Hanley Ramirez (.176), and Erick Aybar (.278) might not have put up great numbers so far, but they have come through with some clutch hits and anyone of them is capable of getting hot and carrying the team.

The Pitchers

This is where the Dominican has really shined. Not only are they the only undefeated team, but they are the best pitching staff. Through six games they have a staff ERA of 2.17.

The starters have been quite good as well including Wandy Rodriguez (2-0/0.96) and Sam Deduno (1-0/1.13). Edinson Volquez is the only starter without a win. He struggled with his control early on against Italy giving up four runs in the first inning, but then he settled down and pitched well. He will get the start on Monday night.

As good as they starters have been, the bullpen has been just as good. Pedro Strop, Fernando Rodney, Octavio Dotel, Santiago Casilla, and Kelvin Herrera have combined for 20 scoreless innings.

The Outlook

This has to be one of the best teams to play in the Classic. If their pitching continues like it has so far, they will be extremely difficult to beat. Then again that is what people thought in 2009 when they faced the Netherlands.

They might be the most well rounded team top to bottom in the semifinals, although Japan would have something to say about that. The question now is can they get revenge for the two losses in 2009 on Monday night?

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WBC: Santana Blasts Dominican Republic Past Puerto Rico; Earns No. 1 Seed


Santana’s Blast Leads Dominicans in Shutout Win

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a monstrous solo home run and the Dominican Republic shut out Puerto Rico, 2-0, to win Pool 2 of the World Baseball Classic. The victors will face the Netherlands in San Francisco and be joined by Puerto Rico, who will take on Japan.

Both teams continued to exhibit the impressive starting pitching that has carried them through the Classic. Wandy Rodriguez toed the rubber for the Dominicans and did not allow Puerto Rico to put multiple runners on base in his six innings. Orlando Román was nearly as strong, giving up just two hits over five frames.

Neither country threatened until the third, when Carlos Rivera led off with a hit for Puerto Rico. Rivera exited with a strained muscle and Irving Falu pinch ran for the burly first baseman. Falú took off for second and stole the bag successfully, but Carlos Santana’s throw went into centre and Puerto Rico had a runner on third.

Rodríguez buckled down against Andy Gonzalez, who hit what turned out to be a game-winning double to defeat the U.S. the night before, and struck him out looking on his signature curveball. Jesus Feliciano was the next batter up, and Rodríguez induced a ground ball to shortstop. Falú was sprinting with the crack of the bat, but Erick Aybar ranged into the hole and threw a perfect strike off balance to home to nail Falú as Santana applied the tag.

With a runner now on first, the Dominican southpaw got Angel Pagan to fly out and the scoreless tie remained.

Román faced his first threat in the bottom of the inning. Santana walked to start things off and moved over on a single by Moises Sierra, who was making his first start of the WBC. Román got a huge strikeout for the first out and then got Jose Reyes to fly out. A grounder by Aybar ended the frame.

Puerto Rico almost capitalised on the plucky hurling of Román in the fourth. Luis Figueroa doubled with no outs, but Rodríguez continued to use his curve effectively, striking out Beltrán, getting the clutch-hitting Mike Avles to fly out, and after the runner advanced on the fly, bearing down on Álex Ríos for another K.

Neither side got another hit until the fifth, when Santana started the inning with his own rally, crushing a changeup well over the right field fence for his second four-bagger of the Classic. The solo shot travelled 427 feet, one of few balls that Marlins Park was not able to hold in the six games played there.

Román finished the frame with ease, but his afternoon was done after five innings. He took the loss despite allowing two hits and one walk, striking out four.

Rodríguez went six frames, finishing under the 80-pitch restriction for the second round. He retired the last nine in-a-row that faced him, whiffing four. He scattered two walks and a pair of hits for his first World Baseball Classic victory.

Efrain Nieves continued Puerto Rico’s strong pitching effort in the sixth and seventh, working around a baserunner each time. Jose Veras and Santiago Casilla matched his zeroes with one inning apiece of their own.

Aybar once more made a big defensive play to get Casilla out of trouble in the eighth. The Dominican reliever walked Martin Maldonaldo to start the frame and gave up a sacrifice Falú. González rocketed a ball at Aybar with one out, and the shortstop gunned won Maldonaldo advancing to third. Casilla put another run on base via a free pass, but finished with a ground ball.

The Dominicans struck against Ñieves in the bottom of the frame. Aybar reached on a one-base hit and moved to third on Robinson Cano’s first hit of the day and Puerto Rico’s manager, Edwin Rodriguez, went to his ‘pen. Randy Fontanez got the second out, but Canó created an extra run for the Dominicans with his baserunning.

With Francisco Pena, a defensive replacement and son of Dominican manager Tony Pena, batting, Canó took off for second. Peña stroked a hard-hit ground ball to the right side and Falú, forgetting there were two outs and racing instinctively to cover, was too close to second to field the ball. Aybar scored on the RBI-single.

Fontañez escaped without giving up another run, but had a scare on the third out, as Nelson Cruz discharged a line drive to the warning track in left centre field, but Eddie Rosario chased the ball down for the third out.

Fernando Rodney came on for the ninth and earned his fifth save of the tournament despite giving up a double to deep left field to his nemesis Aviles. Aviles is 4-for-8 in his big league career against the closer, but Rodney preserved the shutout and entered the record books for his efforts. Rodney, already the record-holder for most saves in a World Baseball Classic, saved his fifth game, setting the career mark in his first WBC appearance.

The Dominicans mustered only six hits and three walks, with Santana the only hitting star. He finished 1-for-1 with two walks. Canó improved his WBC hitting streak to six games. Puerto Rico had only three hits against Rodríguez and the three relievers and was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Dominican Republic became the second team to go undefeated through the first two rounds of the WBC. The last was Korea in the 2006 tournament, though they would lose their next game, 6-0 in the semifinals to eventual champions Japan.

The Dominicans avoided a meeting with Japan with the victory, though they will put their winning streak on the line in the single-elimination semis against the Netherlands on Mar. 19 at 1 a.m. GMT. The Netherlands upset them twice in the last Classic to eliminate them in the first round. Puerto Rico will have to travel to San Francisco without an off day as they face Samurai Japan on Mar. 18 at 1 a.m. GMT.

Stay tuned for coverage of the two semifinal games and the championship match, as well as all your World Baseball Classic news and analysis.

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WBC: Dominican Republic Downs USA; Secures Spot in Championship Round


Dominican Republic Upsets USA, Advances in WBC

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

In a game that truly earned the title of World Baseball Classic, Erick Aybar delivered a pinch hit, go-ahead single in the ninth inning to lead the Dominican Republic in a 3-1 victory over the United States. The dramatic victory qualified the Dominicans for the semifinal round and pushed the U.S.A. within one loss of elimination.

Both teams featured dominant pitching throughout the game, with neither nation able to mount a consistent offence. Despite the absence of ‘Captain America’, David Wright, the U.S. struck in the first against Samuel Deduno, who otherwise had a stellar performance.

Deduno, coming off a strong showing against Spain in the first round, looked shaky to start the game. He gave up a one-out single to Brandon Phillips before getting Ryan Braun swinging. Joe Mauer stroked a one-base hit off Deduno before Giancarlo Stanton bounced a ball up the middle that was stopped by a diving Jose Reyes. Reyes could not get a strong enough toss to second for the forceout and the U.S. had the bases jammed.

Deduno briefly lost control of the strike zone against Eric Hosmer, who took a four-pitch free pass to push across the first run for the U.S. The Dominican hurler followed with a full count against Adam Jones, but dropped a curveball down the heart of the plate to catch Jones looking. It was the last time that the U.S. would have multiple runners on base.

R.A. Dickey started for the United States and had a better feel of his knuckleball than in his first WBC start, but after retiring the first four Dominican batters, left a knuckler in Hanley Ramirez’s wheelhouse. Ramírez crushed the ball to the walkway in left centre, striking the ‘427 foot’ sign with the ball.

Dickey almost ran in to trouble with two outs in the inning after a single by Carlos Santana, sending him to second on a wild pitch. The right-hander got out of the frame with a groundball to keep the score level.

J.P. Arencibia led off the bottom of the second with a single against Deduno. After the runner advanced to second on a sacrifice, Deduno bore down, striking out Jimmy Rollins looking and getting a grounder from Phillips.

The Dominicans got two hits in the third, but Dickey once more battled out of the jam, and the two starters traded zeroes through the fourth. Deduno hit his pitch count after four, but struck out seven while scattering seven baserunners. The U.S. had a runner on base in all four of his frames, but Deduno worked around it every time with a tight curveball to compliment his 92-mph/148-kmh tailing fastball.

Dickey lasted five frames before exiting at the pitch limit. After a booming double by Nelson Cruz with one out in the fourth, Dickey sent down the final five batters he faced. He struck out four, walked one, and surrendered five hits.

From the bottom of the fifth onward, it was a battle of the bullpens. Both teams were up to the task, with each registering only one hit between the fifth and eighth innings. Kelvin Herrera was particularly impressive in relief of Deduno, working through the heart of the US order in the fifth and sixth, allowing no hits or base on balls.

Luke Gregerson, Tim Collins, and Steve Cishek worked the sixth through eight innings for U.S. manager Joe Torre. Cishek hurled an impressive 1-2-3 inning in the eighth against Robinson Cano, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ramírez, catching the latter looking on strike three and leaping off the mound with a triumphant fist pump.

The U.S. got only their sixth hit of the game in the eighth, but Pedro Strop was not troubled by the Mauer safety, striking out Giancarlo Stanton looking and getting a fly ball from Eric Hosmer to send the game to the ninth.

Torre sent in his closer, Craig Kimbrel, with the game tied at one and the 6-7-8 hitters due up for the Dominican Republic. Cruz torched his second double of the game, this time sending it to the opposite alley from his first two-bagger.

Stanton, the rightfielder for the Americans, made a nice play to cut off the ball, diving to catch the ball off one bounce and throwing a laser into second, just behind Cruz. Kimbrel gave up only one double in all of 2012 while finishing games for the Atlanta Braves.

Santana bounced out slowly to second, and Cruz was off with the pitch, making it to third without drawing a throw. With Ricardo Nanita, the only member of the Dominican lineup without big league experience due up, Dominican skipper Tony Pena sent in pinch hitter Erick Aybar.

Aybar took a called strike two on a horrendous call by the home plate umpire, bounding out of the box in disbelief, but ripped the next ball to shallow right field. Cruz came racing home with the Dominicans’ first run since the second inning, and Aybar had a RBI-single as the well-represented Dominican fans erupted into pandemonium. The dugout for the visitors erupted as well, and Cruz was battered with praise as he made his way to the bench.

Peña’s men were not finished with Kimbrel, as Aybar took off for second on the next batter, stealing second base and putting another run in scoring position. Kimbrel got out number two on a strikeout, but Reyes struck a single to left field and Aybar sprinted home to make it 3-1. By this point, both the players and fans for the Dominican Republic were in an absolute frenzy as the U.S.’ fans looked on helplessly.

Torre had finally had enough from Kimbrel, who had a 1.01 ERA in 2012, inserting Mitchell Boggs. Boggs got a ground ball to put an end to the rally, but the Dominican Republic had firmly taken the momentum.

Fernando Rodney entered to close out the game and did just that. Peña’s stopper got a 1-2-3 inning, striking out one for his fourth save of the Classic, tied for most all-time. Strop improved to 3-0, setting WBC records for most wins in a tournament and eclipsing the previous mark for career victories by a reliever.

While Aybar may have been the player of the game, Cruz and Santana each notched two hits to lead the Dominican. U.S. pitchers struck out nine of their opponents and held the Dominicans hitless with runners in scoring position until Kimbrel’s implosion.

Kimbrel suffered his first loss for Team U.S.A., ruining a night that had seen the Americans hold the powerful Dominican bats to six hits until the ninth frame. Mauer was the sole hitting star for the U.S., collecting a pair of safeties to raise his average in the tournament to .444.

The red, white, and blue certainly missed the contributions of Wright, who came in hitting .438 with a Classic-leading 10 RBI. The team was only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and struck out nine times while leaving eight runners stranded.

Wright will be questionable with a sore back for the Americans’ next game against Puerto Rico. Torre will only have a day to regroup before facing intra-national rivals in Marlins Park. Game time is scheduled for 7 pm. EST on Mar. 15. The loser will return home, while the winner will join the Netherlands, Japan, and the Dominican Republic in San Francisco.

Before flying across the country, the Dominicans will have one more game to determine whether they will face the Dutch or the Japanese in AT&T Park. The 1 p.m. EST game on Mar. 16 will pit them against the winner of the U.S.-Puerto Rico contest.

Stay tuned for coverage of the final two games of the second round and the single-elimination finals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

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