Tag Archive | "Dominican Republic"

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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WBC: USA vs Dominican Republic Pitching Match Up


One of the most anticipated match ups has finally arrived. The USA will face the Dominican Republic on Thursday night in Miami to see who will get the first bid from Pool 2 into the Championship Series in San Francisco.

Both teams have been on a roll of late and feature two of the hottest hitters in the Classic. The Dominican’s Robinson Cano is leading the tournament in hits (12), doubles (4), and total bases (22). Plus he is hitting .632 with a pair of home runs.

David Wright might not be leading the Classic in hitting, but he is have a great tournament. He is hitting .438 with two doubles and a home run. And he has had some huge hits leading the Classic in RBI with 10.

But who will be getting the start on the mound? Let’s take a look.

USA

The USA will be starting the reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Dickey didn’t have a great start in the opening game against Mexico. He gave up four runs in four innings. He didn’t walk a batter, but he did give up six hits.

Dickey will look to get his knuckleball tumbling on Thursday. He will be facing a strong Dominican lineup.

Dominican Republic

Sam Deduno will get the start for the Dominican. He started 15 games last season with the Minnesota Twins going 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA.

The 29-year old has spent most of his career in the minor leagues compiling a 45-45 record over 169 games (140 starts). He has struggled with his control in the big leagues walking 53 batters in 79.0 innings in 2012. However, over eight minor league seasons he has averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The winner of the game will have a ticket to the Championship Round in San Francisco. The loser will face Puerto Rico in an elimination game on Friday March 15.

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WBC: Dominican Republic Rallies; Sends Italy to Loser’s Bracket


Dominican Republic Squeaks By Upstart Italy

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Chris Colabello and Italy gave the Dominican Republic a scare, leading the heavily favoured Dominicans until the seventh inning. Jose Reyes and Robinson Cano joined Colabello in hitting home runs in a 5-4 Dominican victory.

Colabello hit a huge longball against Canada and got Italy off to a good start in the first inning with another. With the score 1-0 and runners on the corners, Italy’s designated hitter stroked a three-run tater to right field off EdinsónVolquez. Vólquez allowed only Colabello’s hit in the inning, but got into trouble by walking the first three batters of the game.

Italy’s Tiago da Silva, a top starter in the Italian Baseball League, held the Dominican lineup scoreless in the bottom of the frame, though he gave up a double to Canó. Neither club scored in the second.

Vólquez settled down quickly after the homer and pitched a second-straight 1-2-3 frame in the third. Reyes got the Dominican Republic one run closer with a home run to lead off the third. The blast hit the top of the foul pole in right field and bounced fair. Reyes had only missed a home run to same spot by a few feet in the first.

Da Silva kept dealing into the fifth inning, mixing a change and curveball in the mid-70s/high-110s with a fastball that regularly touched 90/145.Vólquez ran out of fuel in the fifth, giving up two hits with one out, but Juan Cedeño and Lorenzo Barcelo bailed him out of the jam.

Da Silva got two Ks in the fifth and Italy still held a 4-1 advantage going into the sixth, despite having only mustered three safeties.

Italy’s starter finally tired in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Canó blasted a solo home run and Marco Mazzieri, Italy’s skipper, pulled da Silva. Nick Pugliese came in to face the 4-5-6 hitters for the Dominican Republic, and they unloaded two hits, while a walk with two outs jammed the bases. Pat Venditte entered and got a fly out to keep the score at 4-2.

Pedro Strop followed Barcelo with more dominant relief work in the seventh, and the Dominicans unloaded against Venditte. With one down, Reyes hit a single up-the-middle and was followed by a safety from Erick Aybar. Canó blooped a ball into shallow left field that fell between the shortstop and left fielder, though the official scoring was an error on the shortstop.

With the bases loaded, a walk to Edwin Encarnacion plated Reyes, and Aybar came round on a sacrifice fly from Hanley Ramirez. Nelson Cruz then drove in Canó with a RBI-single, and the Dominicans had their first lead of the game at 5-4.

Italy had two final chances to score, but Santiago Casilla hurled a scoreless eighth and Fernando Rodney came on for the save. Rodney gave up a walk, but had a three-up, three-down inning thanks to a strikeout and a double play.

The victory moved the Dominican Republic one win away from a guaranteed spot in the semifinals, though they will have to face the winner of U.S.A.-Puerto Rico to qualify. Italy drops into the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination second round. They will play the loser of the same game, with only the winning team staying alive.

Canó had his fourth consecutive three-hit game to lead the Dominican. He scored twice, as did Reyes, who joined Cruz with a brace of hits. The Dominican Republic was only 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight on, but was aided by a strong defence that did not commit an error.

Punto had two of Italy’s four hits, raising his Classic average to .467, though the team walked six times against only five strikeouts. They had very few chances against a dominant Dominican bullpen that threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit. Strop earned the win, Casilla the hold, and Rodney his third save of the WBC.Venditte took the loss.

Italy will have to play on back-to-back days with their game against the other losing team from the pool. The game will be held at Marlins Park on Mar. 13 at 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT on Mar. 14). The Dominicans will get the day off before hitting the field on Mar. 14 at 7 p.m. EST.

Both games will be covered here, along with all the rest of the World Baseball Classic, so check back for more coverage, analysis, and other information.

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WBC: Dominican Republic Wins Pool C


Dominicans Win Pool C in 4-3 Duel with Puerto Rico

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Robinson Cano hit a home run and Dominican Republic skipper Tony Pena pushed all the right buttons in managing his pitching staff, and the Dominicans beat Puerto Rico 4-3 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Neither team had a lead larger than two at any point, and only one inning featured multiple runs scored. Both teams advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami, with the Dominicans taking the higher seed.

The visitors took the lead in the first. Erick Aybar reached on an infield single that deflected off Puerto Rican first baseman Martin Maldonaldo. Canó stroked a one-base hit to centre and Edwin Encarnacion plated Aybar with the game’s first run. Orlando Roman would bear down on the next three hitters, getting out of the jam without allowing another run to score.

Neither team would threaten until the bottom of the fourth when Alex Rios rapped a safety off Wandy Rodriguez to lead off the inning. One batter later, Mike Aviles took the first pitch he saw from reliever Lorenzo Barcelo into the left centre field seats to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

Canó, who was named Most Valuable Player in the pool at the game’s conclusion, equalled Aviles’ feat, ripping a dinger to left centre to start the fifth. The Dominican Republic would not score again in the inning, but the host’s lead was quickly erased.

After a 1-2-3 inning by Barcelo, the Dominicans grabbed the lead. Carlos Santana hit a single down the left field line and moved over on a sacrifice. Alejandro de Aza, who reached base in all three of his plate appearances, struck a double to the wall in centre that nearly gave the visitors a two-run advantage. Santana scampered home on the play to make it 3-2.

Barcelo and Octavio Dotel split the bottom of the sixth, working around a hit and an error. Dotel got a double play to end the frame, and the Dominicans once more set to work.

Edwin Encarnacion was plunked to start the seventh and Miguel Tejada followed him with a long fly ball to left field. Encarnación had to wait at third when the ball bounced over the wall, but Tejada had a ground rule double. Nelson Cruz plated the lead runner with a groundball and an intentional walk to Carlos Santana and a wild pitch put runners on the corners.

Xavier Cedeño, who earned the save in Puerto Rico’s first win, struck out the final batter in the inning to keep the margin at 4-2.

Pena’s relief hurlers would prevent the Puerto Ricans from gaining any momentum on offence. Dotel pitched the seventh with a strikeout and Cedeño got a three-up, three-down inning in the eighth.

Puerto Rico missed drawing even by about five feet in the bottom of the eighth. Ángel Pagán smoked a ball to left centre, turning on the wheels to leg out a triple to start the frame against San Francisco Giants’ teammate Santiago Casilla.

Casilla buckled down against the 2-3-4 hitters for Puerto Rico, striking out Irving Falu on a combination of fastballs and a nasty curveball, which had Falu whiffing on a 3-2 count. Casilla had another six-pitch at bat against Ríos, striking him out looking.

With two outs and Pagán still on third, Carlos Beltran, Puerto Rico’s cleanup hitter, stepped up, and put a charge in the first pitch he saw. The ball sailed to dead centre, but fell to centerfielder Eury Pérez just in front of the wall.

Randy Fontanez gave up two hits to the Dominicans in the ninth, but the visitors held the momentum and the advantage after Pérez’s heartbreaking catch. Peña turned to closer Fernando Rodney for the bottom of the ninth, and the Tampa Bay Rays’ closer got his second save of the Classic with a 1-2-3 final frame.

Canó had his third-straight three-hit game, keeping hit batting average at .600 in the 2013 Classic. Aybar, Encarnación, and Tejada all collected a hitting brace for the victors, who had all four runs scored by different players. The team left 11 men on base and hit .167 with runners in scoring position, but took advantage of its three extra-base hits.

Aviles was the only Puerto Rican with multiple hits or RBIs, notching two of each. With the exception of Aviles’ blow, Dominican pitching kept their Caribbean neighbours from ever getting a rally going, giving up seven hits and one walk, but getting two double plays and seven strikeouts.

Barcelo earned the win for the Dominican Republic and allowed a run on two hits in two frames. Rodríguez had a solid start, scattering four baserunners over 3 1/3 with two strikeouts. Pena’s ‘pen surrendered only one run and four hits in 5 2/3 frames.

Román started for Puerto Rico and was one out shy of four full frames. He gave up five hits, a walk, and a run, whiffing two. José Berrios, only 18, took the loss after coughing up two runs on three hits and a base on balls.

The defeat dropped Puerto Rico to 9-3 in Hiram Bithorn in World Baseball Classic play, making the Dominicans one of three nations to beat them on their home turf. No. 12 Puerto Rico will have to face the United States, ranked second in the world, to start round two. The matchup between the only nation to field two teams in the WBC occurs on Mar. 13 at 1 a.m. GMT. The Dominican Republic, rated No. 13, will contest ninth-ranked Italy on Mar. 12 at 6 p.m. GMT.

Stay tuned for the second round as the Classic has only seven teams remaining. You can find all your news, recaps, and analysis right here for the remainder of the 2013 WBC.

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WBC: Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico Pitching Match Up


The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico head into their game today both with perfect 2-0 records. Both teams are already secured a sport in Round 2, but today’s game will determine the seeding going forward. So who will get the start on the hill?

Dominican Republic

Wandy Rodriguez will get the start for the Dominican on Sunday. Rodriguez spent the 2012 season with the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates compiling a 12-13 mark. He has spent eight seasons in the big leagues compiling a career 4.03 ERA.

This will be his debut for the Dominican Republic in the WBC.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico will counter with Orlando Roman. The 34-year old right-handed starter spent the 2012 season with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

He spent 12 seasons in the minor leagues before moving on to pitch overseas. In 2011, he pitched in the CPBL (Chinese Taipei) for the Brother Elephants winning 16 games and being named the pitcher of the year.

This is his third WBC playing for Puerto Rico. He made one appearance in 2006 pitching 0.2 innings without allowing a run. In 2009, he gave up one hit and struck out two in one inning of work.

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WBC: Dominican Republic Downs Venezuela


Canó, Dominican Republic Thump Venezuela in Pool C Opener

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

The Dominican Republic left no doubt that it is one of the chief contenders for the world championship with a 9-3 drubbing of a good Venezuelan side. The 13th-ranked Dominican stroked 13 hits, including five of the extra-base variety, to take down eighth-rated Venezuela in the first game of Pool C in the World Baseball Classic.

Edinson Volquez looked dominant on the hill for the Dominican Republic to start the game, retiring Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Miguel Cabrera on only nine pitches. Vólquez got Andrus swinging, though Cabrera hit a ball to the warning track in left centre.

In the bottom of the frame, Jose Reyes led off with single, one of four hits for the Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop. Erick Aybar attempted to bunt him over, but Venezuela’s starter Anibal Sanchez threw the ball away to put two on base.

Robinson Cano made Sánchez pay, ripping a two-run double down the left field line. Another fielding miscue advanced Canó to third. Hanley Ramirez tapped a ball to shortstop and, with Canó going, Andrus tried to get the runner at third, but Canó beat the throw.

The Dominican Republic once more took advantage of the opportunity. Nelson Cruz laced a one-base hit to left and the Dominicans claimed a 3-0 advantage. Sánchez continued to struggle, walking Carlos Santana on four pitches, but the rain that had been falling since the beginning of the game became a downpour and time was called.

Play resumed after 50 minutes, but Sánchez’ night was over after retiring only a single batter and giving up three hits and a walk. His out was recorded on a strikeout of Edwin Encarnacion after Canó’s double.

Cesar Jimenez relieved, and got Venezuela out of the predicament on a nifty line drive double play. Ricardo Nanita hit a ball to right and Ramírez tagged and raced toward the plate, but Carlos Gonzalez nailed Ramírez by two or three paces for the third out.

After the rain delay and long inning, Vólquez did not return, with Angel Castro taking the hill in his place. Venezuela’s manager Luis Sojo used nine pitchers in the game, one short of the WBC record. Castro put two runners on base, but escaped the jam thanks to two marathon catches by Nanita in the cavernous left field foul territory of Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Dominicans were not stymied by the change in pitchers. Alejandro de Aza led off with a single and Reyes followed with a single to left. Erick Aybar once more attempted a bunt, but this time was unsuccessful because of a strong fielding play. Jiménez allowed the popup to drop and nailed de Aza at third.

Canó stepped up with one out and runners on first and second and ripped another two-bagger to the same location as his first double. The blow played Reyes, and Aybar would come around on a sacrifice fly by Encarnación after Edgar Gonzalez relieved. González got a popup from Ramírez to finish the inning, but the Dominicans now held an overwhelming 5-0 advantage after two.

Pablo Sandoval got Venezuela on the board in the third inning. Marco Scutaro and Asdrubal Cabrera walked and, with one out, Miguel Cabrera blasted another ball that once more was caught at the warning track, this time in right field. Sandoval picked up his teammate, though, crushing a two-run double to left centre to make the score 5-2. Carlos González followed with an infield single, but Venezuela could not push across another run.

Édgar González got two strikeouts in a scoreless third, and Venezuela chipped away at the three-run margin in the fourth. Martin Prado laced a ball to Canó’s favourite spot and advanced to second, scampering to third on a ground ball. Prado raced home on a wild pitch, but it appeared that Venezuela would score again.

Scutaro blasted a two-base hit to left centre and, after a pitching change, Andrus reached on an infield single. Asdrubal Cabera struck out in a seven-pitch at bat, but Miguel Cabrera walked to load the bases. Sandoval could not replicate his success of the previous inning, lifting a ball to centre to end the frame.

New pitcher Jhoulys Chacin worked around two hits in the fourth to keep the margin at 5-3, but Venezuela could not capitalise in the top of the fifth despite putting two runners on base.

Chacín gave up a solo shot to Ramírez to lead off the bottom of the fifth and gave up a walk with one out, but got out of the inning on a twin killing. Neither club could mount a rally in the sixth.

With all momentum lost after the Ramírez home run, Venezuela went down 1-2-3 in the seventh. It was the second straight three-up, three-down inning for Dominican pitching.

The Dominican hitters put the game away in the seventh, though they did so with some help from Venezuela. Ramírez walked with one out and move to second on a wild pitch. The mistake caused a run to score after Nelson Cruz ripped a ground-rule double to plate the runners.

Santana and Nanita would reach on free passes to jam the sacks, and de Aza sent two of them on a double into the right field corner. The 9-3 margin would hold up, as both teams were scoreless the rest of the way.

Canó had three hits for the Dominican Republic and Cruz and de Aza joined him with a brace, though Reyes’ four safeties was the best of the WBC so far. The squad hit .350 with runners on base. Santana walked in all four of his plate appearances.

Six different batters had hits for Venezuela. Asdrubal Cabrera and Prado both walked twice. Sandoval had the only RBIs for the maroon-and-gold. Venezuela committed an error in the field, but also turned four double plays and had an outfield assist.

Sánchez took the loss and threw only 20 pitches, meaning he could start again in Pool B action. Pedro Strop was given a discretionary victory as the five outs he got were more than any other pitcher for the D.R. He struck out two and did not allow a baserunner.

Both teams will have a day off to regroup. The victors will take on Spain on Mar. 9 at 4 p.m. GMT. Venezuela will square off against host Puerto Rico later that day at 9:30 p.m. GMT. Stay tuned for more World Baseball Classic news, reviews, and analysis.

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WBC: Venezuela vs Dominican Republic Pitching Match Up


In what might be the most exciting match up of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic faces off with Venezuela to start off Pool C from Puerto Rico later today. The game features two of the most exciting offenses in the tournament, but the pitching isn’t too bad either. Let’s take a look at who will be starting.

Venezuela

Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez will get the start for Venezuela in what will be a huge game. Sanchez started the 2012 MLB season with the Miami Marlins before being traded to the Tigers. He finished the year 9-13 with a 3.86 ERA over 31 games.

Sanchez has been fairly consistent since 2010 posting around 195 innings pitched and an ERA between 3.55 and 3.86 each season. This is Sanchez’s first start in the WBC, but he has pitched internationally during the winter in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican will counter with fellow MLB starter Edinson Volquez of the San Diego Padres. Volquez went 11-11 in 2012 with the Padres posting a 4.14 ERA in 32 starts. The former N.L. All-Star is coming off his first full MLB season since 2008 when he won 17 games with the Reds.

In 182.2 innings, Volquez struck out 174, but he also led the league in walks with 105. He will have his hand full with the Venezuela lineup.

Volquez was with the Dominican Republic’s 2009 WBC team. He started one game giving up three runs in three innings losing to the Netherlands.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 81-90


Last time we took a look at #91-100 on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List which featured three international players. Today we take the next step down the list with #81-90.

Hak-Ju Lee, ss, TB – #90

Born in South Korea, Lee was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 2008. He was later traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.

Lee spent the 2012 season in Double-A Montgomery where he put up solid numbers, but the slipped a bit as he moved up against tougher competition. This is his third time on the Top 100 List starting at #92 in 2011. He then jumped up a lot after a nice 2011 season to #44 before falling back to #90 this year.

Lee has a lot of speed stealing 37 bases in 2012 in Double-A and hitting 10 triples. His on-base-percentage fell quite a bit this past season as his strikeout numbers jumped to over 100, but look for him to settle in with more at-bats against the higher competition. He is a plus defender at shortstop and has consistently been ranked among the top Rays prospects for the past couple seasons.

James Paxton, lhp, SEA – #87

Paxton hails from Canada but played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He is a hard throwing lefty who has averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his brief career. Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009, Paxton didn’t sign and elected to return to school. However, the NCAA deemed him ineligible due to his contract with agent Scott Boras. Instead, he signed with the independent Grand Prairie Airhogs before being drafted again in 2010. This time he was drafted in the 4th round by Seattle and signed.

In his first season of affiliated ball, Paxton struck out 131 batters in 95 innings. He spent all of the 2012 season at Double-A Jackson where he posted a line of 9-4/3.05 in 21 starts. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball, but like many young pitchers can struggle with his control at times. In 2012, he walked 54 batters in 106 innings. Look for him to get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues this upcoming season.

Yordano Ventura, rhp, KC – #85

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 for Ventura who hails from the Dominican Republic. While Ventura may be small in stature, 5’11” and 150 lbs, he has shown a live arm and the ability to get hitters out.

Ventura spent 2012 split mostly between Single-A and Double-A, but he posted good numbers at both. In 109.1 combined innings he struck out 130 batters. After his move up to the higher level he struggled a bit, but he is still only 21. For the past two seasons he has ranked #1 in the Kansas City Royals organization for the best fastball.

He will need more seasoning in the minors, but he could have a big future ahead of him, especially if he harnesses that fastball and learns to throw more strikes.

Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, CHC – #83

Vizcaino is no stranger to the Top 100 List as this is his fourth appearance on it. Out of the Dominican Republic, he was once a top prospect with the Yankees and then Atlanta.

He is still  young at only 22, but he has has injury problems. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2012 and missed the entire season. He has a great fastball, once clocked at 101 mph, and has had a top rated curve ball in every minor league system he has been apart of.

In 2011, Vizcaino got a taste of the big leagues pitching in 17 games for the Atlanta Braves. While he struggled with his control at times (he walked 9 in 17 innings), he also showed how he can be overpowering striking out a batter per inning.

He will look to come back from injury this season and reclaim the form that made him one of the top prospects. He has a strong arm, is still very young, and with some time already in the big leagues he will look to eventually help the Cubs at the big league level sometime in the near future.

Martin Perez, lhp, TEX – #81

Perez comes out of Venezuela and is a highly thought of pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers. At the age of 21, Perez got a taste of the big leagues making six starts in Texas and getting into six other games in relief.

Perez has been talked about for several years now within the Rangers organization. He is a left-handed pitcher with good off speed stuff having ranked at the top of the Rangers minor league system as having the best curve ball and change up and one point or another. His biggest problem it seems so far has been control. He has continually walked more than three batters per nine innings pretty much everywhere he has gone. He is not going to blow hitters away and rack up strikeouts, so he has to learn better control.

Perez has a shot at the Rangers rotation this year if he can come away with a big spring. The team is hurting for starters as a few of their regulars are on the DL with injuries to start the season. He could just make it in as the number five starter if he pitches well enough.If not, look for him to start the year in Triple-A Round Rock.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #71-80.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 91-100


Today we start a series taking a look at the international players on the Baseball America 2013 Top 100 Prospects List. Today we will take a look at the bottom 10 of the list from 91-100 and see which players were born and raised internationally.

So here we go with the first few:

Leonys Martin, of, TEX – #97

Martin was born in Cuba and signed by the Texas Rangers in 2011 as a free agent. He has been a top prospect in the minors for a few years now appearing on the 2012 edition of the Top 100 the previous season at #79.

He has spent two seasons in the Rangers farm system and has had a little taste of the Major League level as well. In the minor leagues he has done quite well. In 124 games, at all levels, he has hit .323 with 16 home runs and 29 stolen bases. However, he has struggled in his short time at the MLB level. He has appeared in 32 games garnering 54 at-bats hitting just .204.

The upcoming season could be huge from Martin though. With the absence of Josh Hamilton in the Rangers outfield, Martin looks to get a lot of playing time perhaps in a platoon with Craig Gentry in center field. He will get a lot of playing time this spring as they will look for him to be a contributor at the big league level.

Bruce Rondon, rhp, DET – #95

Bruce Rondon is from Valencia, Venezuela and was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in September 2007.

This is the first time Rondon has cracked the Top 100 List, but he is only 22. Last season he pitched at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A doing quite well at all levels. He is a closer in the minor leagues already picking up 65 saves in five years in the minor leagues. In 2012, he picked up 29 saves in the minor leagues. He is a strikeout pitcher averaging more than one per inning in his career so far, but he has had control problems in the past walking 5.10 per 9 innings over his career.

He has a lot of upside and his future is now. The Tigers didn’t resign closer Jose Valverde and are looking for Rondon to open the season as the Detroit Tigers closer if the passes the audition this spring.

Daniel Corcino, rhp, CIN – #94

Corcino is from Azuna, Dominican Republic and enters the 2013 season at only 22 years of age. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a non-drafted free agent in January 2008.

After spending three seasons in Rookie ball or at the Low-A level, Corcino was moved to a starting pitcher and really took off. In 2011, he spent the year at the Low-A level and pitched well for Dayton going 11-7/3.42 in 26 starts. He made the jump to Double-A Pensacola last year and pitched just as well. In 26 starts, Corcino went 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA over 143.1 innings.

Like a lot of young pitchers he has struggled at times with his control. Over his minor league career he has averaged 3.48 walks per 9 innings. He can miss bats at time as well with his career 8.65 strikeouts per 9 innings.

He will once again get to face advanced hitters at either the Double-A or Triple-A level for 2013 to see if he can continue his success and move further toward a spot in the Cincinnati rotation.

Next up we will take a look at the prospects from 81-90.

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Eight Great Latin American Ballplayers


By Ismael Nunez

This month of February is African-American History Month. It’s also Dominican History Month, and in the first week of February every year:  Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela participated in the Caribbean World Series!

Yet the games are not shown on prime-time and at the same time there are several Latin American ballplayers many USA citizens don’t know much about.  Here are the Magnificent Eight!

Cuba

Martin Dihigo stood 6’3 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was the first Latin American Ballplayer who played in the Negro Leagues elected into the Hall. The only ballplayer elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in four countries (Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, United States).  In Cuba he was called “The Immortal” in other Latin American countries he was called “El Maestro” (The Master). As a pitcher he won over 25o games had a winning percentage over .650. As a hitter he had a batting average of over .300 and won batting  and home-run titles.  Too many, including former Negro League Hall of Famers, consider him the greatest player ever!

Jose Mendez stood only 5’8. In Cuba he was called “El Diamante Negro” (The Black Diamond) yet he had a winning percentage of .747.  When Major League Teams traveled to the island in exhibition games Mendez won most of the time! In one game he defeated Hall of Fame Pitcher Christy Mathewson in 1911.

Cristobal Torriente stood between 5’9 and 5’10 yet weighed 190 pounds. He was called “The Cuban Babe Ruth”, played baseball year-round, and was a star player both in the Negro and Cuban Leagues from 1913 to 1922. His lifetime batting average was .352.

All Three of these Cubans are in Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

Dominican Republic

Tetelo Vargas has been called “The Father of Dominican Baseball and The Dominican Deer” who was excellent both on defense and offense! Long before there was Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero there was Vargas. Playing in the Negro Leagues, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican Leagues he put together a lifetime batting average of .300.  He also had good speed, and was notable base stealer.

Horacio “Rabbit” Martinez was an outstanding shortstop, and a clutch hitter.

To many he was the greatest shortstop ever to play in the Dominican Republic and one of the top shortstops in the Negro Leagues from the 1930’s and 1940’s. In an article for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) many would say long before Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith there was Martinez making those plays. He had a rifle of an arm and brilliant speed.

In his Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley wrote that Martinez was “a good bunter, fast on the bases, and good on either end of the hit-and-run play! Always a hustler!”

Dominican baseball player Manny Mota had this to say about Martinez “Mr. Horacio Martínez was without a doubt one of the greatest players in the history of the Dominican Republic. Besides being a great player, he was like a father to me. I’ve got a great deal of respect and admiration for him.”

Rob Ruck, author, The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic, and co-writer/producer of the film Republic of Baseball stated this, “I think that both Tetelo Vargas and Horacio Martínez merit consideration for the Hall of Fame. Now that the Hall has opened its “Viva Baseball” exhibit about Latinos in baseball, I hope that they might establish a special committee to consider such candidacies, as they did once before, in 2006!

Puerto Rico

Pancho Coimbre & Perucho Cepeda

Long before Puerto Rican great like Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar arrived in the Hall of Fame, you had these two individuals.  Coimbre and Cepeda both stood 5’11 and both were Afro-Puerto Rican as well as outstanding hitters/fielders. Cepeda’s single season batting average of .464 is the highest in Puerto Rican Baseball History. Coimbre’s lifetime batting average of .337 is the second best in Puerto Rican Baseball History.  Both are in the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mexico

The country has had baseball fever long before Fernandomania in 1981, Bobby Avila winning the A.L. batting title in 1954, or the country winning the 2013 Caribbean World Series. Before all of this there was Hector Espino!

He was called the “Babe Ruth of Mexico”  and his  achievements have been compared favorably with many baseball legends who have received baseball’s highest honor.

He won a staggering 18 batting titles(winter/summer leagues) which is six more than the 12 batting crowns Hall of Famer Ty Cobb captured. He also spent 24 years with the Orange Men from 1960-84. Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (Orioles) and Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox) are tied with 23 years of service in one uniform.

He became the oldest man to win a batting title in 1983 when he was 43 years-old and hit .316. Ted Williams was 40 when he hit .328 in 1958.

He led Mexico to its first Caribbean World Series win in 1976, and in 1988 was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México).

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Caribbean Series Eyes Possible Return to Miami


HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The Caribbean Series could possibly return to Miami in the near future. Caribbean Baseball Confederation president Juan Francisco Puello Herrera has been in talks with the Miami Marlins about the possibility of using their new stadium in Little Havana.

The talks are still early, and the Series might not return to Miami for another four years or so.

The tournament was held at the Orange Bowl, site of the current Miami Marlins Park, in 1990. It was also held at Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium in 1991. The Series was going through hard times during their trips to Miami, and Puello would like to reestablish the events image in the heavily Latin populated area.

Another factor is the possible return of Cuba to the Series. Cuba hasn’t played since 1961, but its return is still a long shot. Puello has stated that Cuba would have to commit to the Series to return. It would not be allowed for just one series. It would have to be on a permanent basis.

The 2014 Caribbean Series will return to Venezuela. The tournament rotates between the four countries participating (Mexico, Venezuala, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic).

Next year it will take place in Margarita which is a large island on the northeast coast of the country. It will be played at Estadio Guatamare where the Series debuted in 2010 when the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic took home the title.

The Series will rotate to Puerto Rico in 2015 and the Dominican Republic in 2016.

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Caribbean Series: Luis Mendoza Named MVP of Series


HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The All-Stars of the 2013 Caribbean Series were named prior to Thursday’s Championship Game.

Luis Mendoza, a Kansas City Royals pitcher, was named the Most Valuable Player of the round robin portion of the tournament. Mendoza was part of Mexico’s Yaquis de Obregon team that went on to win the title.

Mendoza made two starts in the tournament pitching 13.1 scoreless innings. He flirted with a no-hitter on Wednesday taking one into the eighth inning when he would pitch 7.1 innings giving up just two hits to earn the win. That win against Puerto Rico put Mexico into the Championship Game against the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic.

The rest of the All-Stars were:

• Manager: Audo Vicente (DR)
• Catcher: Francisco Pena (DR)
• Pitcher: Mendoza
• First base: Donell Linares (DR)
• Second base: Jose Ramirez (DR)
• Third base: Mario Lisson (Venezuela)
• Shortstop: Miguel Tejada (DR)
• Outfielder: Marlon Byrd (Mexico)
• Outfielder: Ricardo Nanita (DR)
• Outfielder: Doug Clark (Mexico)
• Designated hitter: Barbaro Canizares (Puerto Rico)
• Right-handed pitcher: Mendoza
• Left-handed pitcher: Efraim Nieves (Puerto Rico)
• Relief pitcher: David Reyes (Mexico)
• Closer: Saul Rivera (Puerto Rico)

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Caribbean Series: Doug Clark Ends Championship with Home Run in the 18th Inning


HERMOSILLO, Mexico – It took 18 innings and just about eight hours of play before the Yaquis de Obregon of Mexico could hold on to pick up the win over the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic. The 4-3 victory in the first Championship Game gave Mexico the 2013 Caribbean Series title. It was their second title in three years, both by Obregon.

Mexico led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning but couldn’t hang on. Ricardo Nanita (1-for-8) homered to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

From there it was a battle of bullpens for another nine innings. It looked again like Mexico might pull out the win in the 14th inning, but once again they couldn’t hold on. Karim Garcia (1-for-5) led off the inning with a home run to give Mexico a 3-2 lead. But with a one-run lead in the 14th Mexico’s pitching staff couldn’t find the strike zone. Edgar Gonzalez walked the first two batters. After a couple of ground outs, the face of the Caribbean Series came to the plate with a chance to tie or win it, Miguel Tejada (2-for-8). Tejada preceeded to single to right field driving in the tying run.

Mexico pitching walked 10 batters, but eight of those were in the last 6.1 innings including six in a 2.1 inning streak. Starter Rodrigo Lopez pitched brilliantly tossing 7.2 innings of one run ball (unearned). Marco Carrillo (W, 1-0) picked up the win pitching four innings of scoreless relief.

The Dominican Republic starter Angel Castro pitched just as well as Lopez. He tossed 7.2 innings giving up just two runs (1 earned) on two hits. He was on the hook for the loss until Nanita homered in the ninth inning. The pitching staff struck out 21 Mexico hitters and gave up only six hits over 18 innings. Edward Valdez (L, 0-1) took the loss giving up a run in the 18th inning.

That lone run in the 18th inning came off the bat of longtime journeyman Doug Clark (2-for-7). With one out, Clark sent the first pitch he saw just over the right field fence giving Mexico the lead and eventually the win.

Clark bounced around in the minor leagues from 1998 to 2007. He got a “cup of coffee” in the Major Leagues in 2005 and 2006 getting into the action in fourteen games for San Francisco and Oakland. After that he took off for the foreign leagues starting first in South Korea with the Hanwha Eagles and then onto the Nexen Heroes between 2008-2010. Ever since leaving Korea, Clark has been playing in the Mexican League for Quintana Roo.

The game tied the record for most innings (18) with a game that came in 2007. It also set the record for the longest game at seven hours and 28 minutes).

Doug Clark was named MVP of the championship.

It was Mexico’s seventh Caribbean Series title tying them with Venezuela and Cuba. It was the second title won by the Yaquis de Obregon.

Photos courtesy Yaquis de Obregon

Clark HR

Doug Clark rounds the bases after his 18th inning home run

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Caribbean Series: Dominican Republic Eliminates Venezuela; Awaits Mexico – Puerto Rico Winner


HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The Dominican Republic earned a spot in the new Championship Game of the 2013 Caribbean Series with a win over Mexico on Tuesday. On Wednesday they eliminated Venezuela with a 4-2 win.

Both team got good starts from their starting pitcher. The Dominican’s Carlos Pimentel pitched four innings giving up only one unearned run on two hits. The bullpen did just as well giving up only one run on three hits the rest of the way. Pimentel didn’t factor in the decision, but Armando Rodriguez (W, 1-0) picked up the win pitching a scoreless eighth inning. Jailen Peguero (S, 1) got the save with a scoreless ninth.

On the other side of the field, Sergio Perez started and pitched well for Venezuela going five innings giving up just one run on five hits.

The game was a pitching duel between the two bullpens, until the ninth inning.

Victor Moreno (L, 0-1) came in to start the ninth for Venezuela. He got the inning started off right with a strikeout. Then he walked a batter and struck out another. So with two outs and a runner at second, after a stolen base, he was lifted for reliever Marcos Tabata.

The Dominican Republic quickly took advantage.

The first hitter Tabata saw, Francisco Pena (2-for-4), hit a two-run home run to put the Dominican in the lead for good.

Venezuela couldn’t come back in the ninth against Peguero and that was it. Their 2013 Caribbean Series ended in disappointment after starting off well. After starting off 2-1, Venezuela dropped the last three games to finish 2-4 and out of the new championship game.

The last game of the round robin features Mexico against Puerto Rico. The winner will advance to face the Dominican Republic in the championship game. In their first meeting, Mexico shutout Puerto Rico 3-0, but Puerto Rico has been hot lately winning their last 2 games.

Full Box Score

2013 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 5-1

2. Mexico 2-3

3. Puerto Rico 2-3

4. Venezuela 2-4

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Caribbean Series: Puerto Rico Downs the Domincan Republic 6-4 in Extra Innings


HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Puerto Rico needed an extra inning but it picked up its first win in the 2013 Caribbean Series with a huge win over previously undefeated Dominican Republic 6-4.

Puerto Rico entered the game 0-3 having lost to the Dominican Republic just 6-2 just two days prior. Late in the game it looked like it might be a repeat of the first game with the Dominican leading 4-2 late in the game.

However, Puerto Rico didn’t give up and tied the game at four with two runs in the eighth inning. The inning started off bad for Puerto Rico as the first two batters struck out swinging. But Luis Mateo (2-for-5) kept the inning alive with a two out single. The next batter, Jesus Feliciano (1-for-4) reached on an error by Dominican shortstop Hanley Ramirez putting runners at second and third. Rey Navarro (2-for-5/4 RBI) followed that up with a huge clutch single to tie the game at four.

Navarro would have one more huge hit in the tenth inning. With a runner on, Navarro homered to center field to put Puerto Rico in the lead to stay at 6-4.

Carlos Rivera (3-for-5) and Johnny Monell (3-for-3) both picked up three hits apiece in the win for Puerto Rico.

Jordany Valdespin (2-for-5/2 RBI) and Alberto Rosario (2-for-4) both homered for the Dominican in the loss.

The win puts Puerto Rico’s record at 1-3. Another loss and they would have been completely eliminated for a chance at winning the tournament. The loss hurts the Dominican Republic more who looked to take a 4-0 record into the final two games of the round robin.

Earlier in the tournament, Dominican shortstop Miguel Tejada hit his 14th home run in his Caribbean Series career extending his record. This is Tejada’s 12th Caribbean Series.

Caribbean Series Standings:

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

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LIDOM: Escogido Earns Trip Back to Caribbean Series


The Leones de Escogido completed the sweep of the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League Finals (Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana or LIDOM).

Escogido needed 11 innings in Game 4 to pick up the win as Jesus Feliciano (2-for-6) scored on a throwing error by Miguel Tejada. Feliciano started the inning off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Ramon Santiago (1-for-5). After Starling Marte (2-for-5) was intentionally walked, Mauro Gomez (0-for-5) reached on a force attempt when Tejada threw the ball away.

All three runs scored by Escogido were unearned due to three errors by the Aguilas.

In the loss Tejada and Elian Herrera both picked up three hits.

Neither starter lasted five innings with the Aguilas Dustin Richardson tossing 4.2 innings giving up a pair of unearned runs on three hits while striking out five. The Escogido starter Daniel Cabrera tossed four innings giving up one unearned run on three hits.

Nelson Payano (W, 2-0) picked up the win tossing just 0.1 innings in relief. Juan Sandoval (L, 0-2) took the loss pitching just 0.1 innings in relief giving up one hit, walking one, and giving up one unearned run.

Escogido 3, Aguilas 0

Kris Johnson (W, 2-1) tossed six innings giving up just four hits and striking out five to pick up the win as Escogido shut out the Aguilas to complete the sweep. Fernando Rodney (S, 1) earned the save. Marco Tovar (L, 0-2) took the loss pitching just two innings allowing just two runs (1 unearned).

Fernando Tatis (3-for-3) drove in three runs including one with a solo home run in the 7th inning. Starling Marte (2-for-4) added a couple hits as well in the win.

Hector Luna (3-for-4) played well for the Aguilas picking up three of the five hits for his team.

This was the second year in a row that Escogido defeated the Aguilas in the finals to advance to the Caribbean Series. They will now travel to Hermosillo, Mexico to defend their Caribbean Series title from a year ago.

LIDOM Schedule:

Game 1: Escogido 10, Aguilas 7
Game 2: Aguilas 5, Escogido 8
Game 3: Escogido 9, Aguilas 0
Game 4: Aguilas 2, Escogido 3
Game 5: Escogido 3, Aguilas 0
Escogido wins series 5-0

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LIDOM: Escogido Sweeps Aguilas to Earn Caribbean Series Birth


The Leones de Escogido swept the Aguilas Cibaenas to earn another LIDOM Championship. It is their 2nd straight and 3rd in the past 4 years. The win earns them a trip back to the Caribbean Series where they will defend their title from a year ago.

After winning the first 3 games, Escogido needed 11 innings and a throwing error by Aguilas shortstop Miguel Tejada to win Game 4.

Escogido got a big game from starter and Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand Kris Johnson (W, 2-1) who went 6 shutout innings giving up only 4 hits while striking out 5 to pick up the win. Fernando Rodney (S, 1) picked up the save with a scoreless 9th.

Third baseman Fernando Tatis (3-for-3) homered and drove in 3 runs for Escogido. Tatis drove in a pair of runs in the 2nd inning with a double, then finished off the scoring in the 7th with a solo home run.

Marco Tovar (L, 0-2) took the loss starting and lasting only 2 innings giving up 2 runs on 3 hits. Hector Luna picked up 3 hits in the loss for Aguilas.

With the series win, Escogido qualifies for the Caribbean Series to take place in Hermosillo, Mexico from February 1-7, 2013.

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