Tag Archive | "Venezuela"

2017 Caribbean Series Championship: Puerto Rico vs. TBD


A team that started 1-3 in the round robin will be in the 2017 Caribbean Series Championship, Puerto Rico. It defeated Venezuela in the semifinal this afternoon 9-6.

Puerto Rico held off a late inning rally for the win after almost blowing a 9-2 lead. Puerto Rico picked up 4 runs in the top of the first to jump out on top of Venezuela starter Mitch Lively, who didn’t make it out of the first frame. They continued pounding reliever Wil Ledezma for 3 runs over 2.2 innings before he was pulled.

Orlando Roman (W, 1-0) got the start for Puerto Rico and pitched well going 5.0 innings. He gave up just 1 run on seven hits while striking out 7. Reliever William Oliver was touched up for 4 runs in 2.2 innings, all in the 8th inning.

Venezuela made a comeback picking up 4 in the 8th, including a 2-run double from Ronny Cedeno. Venezuela then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th, but Ricardo Gomez worked out of the jam to pick up the save.

Notable Performers: David Vidal hit a home run and drove in 2 runs for Puerto Rico. Henry Ramos set the table going 3-for-5 and scoring 2 runs from the lead off spot. Denis Phipps homered in the loss for Venezuela.

2017 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Wednesday, February 01:

Thursday, February 02:

Friday, February 03:

Saturday, February 04:

  • Dom. Rep. 2, Puerto Rico 10
  • Cuba 3, Venezuela 8

Sunday, February 05:

  • Dom. Rep. 3, Venezuela 4
  • Mexico 0, Cuba 4

Monday, February 06:

  • Cuba vs Mexico

Tuesday, February 07:

  • Puerto Rico vs. TBD 9:00 p.m.

All times ET

2017 Caribbean Series Standings:

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

Caribbean Series Championship, Puerto Rico

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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. 71-80


Lately we have taken a look at the international players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List that recently came out. We have taken a look at nos. 81-100 and today we will look at 71-80.

If you missed the first two segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 73 German Marquez, RHP/Colorado Rockies – Marquez, originally from Venezuela, will turn 22 later this month before heading into season number 5 for the hard throwing righty. He was apart of a trade that brought prospect Jake McGee to the Rockies. He was a bit overlooked but quickly made a name for himself. He won the Eastern League (AA) pitcher of the year award last season after posting a 2.85 ERA over 21 starts. After a short stint in AAA, Marquez made his MLB debut last year pitching in 6 games with 3 starts. While he may not continue his 12.2 K/9 that he had over 20.2 innings in Colorado, he has a shot to be an impact starter for the big league club for years to come.

No. 72 Jorge Alfaro, C/Philadelphia Phillies – Alfaro was once a highly thought of prospect in the Texas Rangers farm system out of Colombia. Now after a trade that brought Cole Hamels to Texas in 2015, Alfaro went east to join Philly’s farm system. Last year marked Alfaro’s rise to the big leagues after a great season in AA. In Reading Alfaro showed off his power (21 doubles and 15 home runs) and showed he can be more consistent at the plate as he hit .285. While his strikeouts are still a bit high, he is still only 23. He has the defense to play at the big league level to the point that the talk of moving him out from behind the plate has slowed down. He has a high upside and might just earn a few more at bats sometime this season with the big league club. Alfaro ranked no. 59 on the 2016 Top 100 List.

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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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Aguilas de Zulia 1 Game Away from LVBP Championship


The Aguilas de Zulia moved game closer to taking home the Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional or LVBP Championship. Zulia took Game 3 by a score of 8-7 to move within a game of moving onto the Caribbean Series. The Cardenales de Lara are now down to must win games to stay alive.

It was an exciting finish going into extra innings tied at 5. Lara pulled ahead in the top of the 8th 5-4 only to see Zulia tie the game in the bottom half of the inning on a Mario Lisson solo home run.

Lara would go onto score 2 runs in the top of the 10th only to see Zulia come back and score 3 for the walk off win.

Jesus Montero, who last played in the big leagues in 2015, led Lara offensively going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of runs batted in. Rangel Ravelo (2-for-4) and Juniel Querecuto (2-for-4) both chipped in with a pair of hits for Lara.

Ronny Cedeno (2-for-3) hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning finishing the game with 3 RBI and a stolen base. Jose Pirela (2-for-5), Alex Romero (2-for-4), and Jesus Flores (2-for-4) led Zulia at the plate. But the biggest hit of the night came from Ali Castillo on a line drive to center to score Jordany Valdespin with the walk off winner.

Zulia will look to finish off the series Tuesday night to try and advance to the Caribbean Series.

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Aguilas de Zulia Take 2-0 Lead in LVBP Championship Series


The Aguilas de Zulia once again pounced on the Cardenales de Lara in the Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional or LVBP Championship Series. Zulia now leads the best-of-7 series 2-0.

Zulia started off well with a single run in the 1st and 2nd innings then exploded for three in the 3rd which was more than enough. The bottom of the order really led the way for the Aguilas in Game 2. The no. 6-9 hitters all had two hits apiece to pace the 13 hit attack. No other hitter had more than one for Zulia. They also each drove in at least two runs, with eight hole hitter Jordany Valdespin (2-for-5) driving in a game high three.

Wil Ledezma (W, 1-0) pitched well for Zulia starting and going six strong. He allowed just 1 run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4 to pick up the win. Lara starter Jorge Martinez (L, 2-1) took the loss going just 2.2 innings.

The bright spot for Lara hitting wise was Gustavo Molina who went 3-for-3.

Game 3 will be tomorrow night (Monday, 1/23) as Lara looks to try and get back in the series.

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Winter Leagues: Zulia Leads Lara in Venezuelan Championships


The Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional or LVBP started its championship series this weekend. Playing in the finals with a chance to advance to the Caribbean Series are the Arguilas del Zulia and Cardenales de Lara.

The seven game championship series began today, Friday January 20. It will continue through Saturday January 28 with the final three games only as needed.

Game 1 was dominated by the visiting Zulia 12-2. The game stayed close for the first five innings with Zulia ahead just 3-2, but the Aguilas bats got hot in the sixth inning scoring eight runs.

After Lara starter Raul Rivero gave up a lead off triple in the sixth, he was pulled for reliever Franklin Morales. However, Morales failed to get any of the three hitters he faced out. Morales promptly hit Alex Romero putting two runners on base. He then was plagued by a defensive miscue, Lara would commit two errors allowing six unearned runs, that allowed Jose Pirela to score from third. Morales followed that up by plunking the next hitter too in Jordany Valdespin before being yanked. It would take Lara four pitchers to get out of the sixth but not before they gave up eight runs.

Endy Chavez (2-for-4) homered for Zulia. Six hitters for Zulia had multiple hits including Freddy Galvis with four from the lead off spot. Mitch Lively pitched well for the Aguilas to pick up the win going seven innings allowing just two earned runs on six hits.

Game 2 of the series is tomorrow (1/21) at 5:30 PM. The probable starters for tomorrow’s game include Wil Ledezma for Zulia and Jorge Martinez for Lara.

The champion will advance to the 2017 Caribbean Series where Zulia would be in search of its third title with the last coming in 1989. The Aguilas last won the LVBP in 2000. The Cardenales de Lara last won the LVBP in 2001 but have never won a Caribbean Series title.

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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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Groups Unveiled for the U12 Baseball World Cup


The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced the groups for the upcoming U12 Baseball World Cup to take place in Taiwan later this summer. Twelve teams will compete for the title that the US will defend after winning the 2013 edition of the tournament in Taiwan.

The top four nations will compete in the event with the top two, Japan and the USA, competing in the same group for the first stage.

Group A
1. Cuba (World No. 3)
2. Chinese Taipei (No. 4)
3. South Korea (No. 8)
4. Venezuela (No. 10)
5. Brazil (No. 15)
6. Russia (No. 32)

Group B
1. Japan (No. 1)
2. USA (No. 2; Defending U12 World Champions)
3. Mexico (No. 12)
4. Australia (No. 14)
5. Nicaragua (No. 16)
6. France (No. 27)

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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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Caribbean Series: Venezuela Downs Puerto Rico in Game Two


The first day of the 2015 Caribbean Series is in the books with Mexico and Venezuela picking up wins. In Game 2, Venezuela downed host Puerto Rico 5-2 behind the strong pitching of Daryl Thompson.

Thompson tossed 6 innings allowing just one run on three hits while striking out five. Thompson spent most of the 2014 season pitching for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.

Giovanni Soto (AA CLE) took the loss for Puerto Rico. The young lefty had a good 2014 season out of the bullpen for AA Akron. The 23-year old native Puerto Rican tossed four runs giving up all five runs.

Offensively Alexi Amarista had a great day at the plate. He tripled in a pair of runs going 2-for-4. Niuman Romero also drove in two runs with a double going 1-for-2.

Full Box Score

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

Tuesday February 3rd
12:05 pm Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic
6:30 pm Mexico vs. Puerto Rico

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

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

Friday February 6th
12:05 pm Cuba 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 1-0
2. Venezuela 1-0
3. Dominican Republic
4. Puerto Rico 0-1
5. Cuba 0-1

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Premier 12: Japan Announces it will form Dream Team


With the Premier 12 making its debut this coming November in Japan and Taiwan, a few teams are not taking this for granted and going all out to make an impact.

Former big leaguer Carlos Guillen has been named the manager for the No. 10 ranked Venezuela club. His first big test at the helm will be the inaugural Premier 12 event.

Another big announcement came down today when Samurai Japan leader Hiroki Kokubo announced he will form a dream team with Japan’s biggest names to compete. The tournament will take place from November 8-21.

The even will be the first of its kind with the top 12 ranking international teams invited to the tournament. Competing will be: No. 1 Japan, No. 2 USA, No. 3 Cuba, No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 5 Netherlands, No. 6 Dominican Republic, No. 7 Canada, No. 8 South Korea, No. 9 Puerto Rico, No. 10 Venezuela, No. 11 Italy, and No. 12 Mexico. The event will give away millions in US$ prize money and also the most world ranking points of any international event.

The semifinals and finals of the event will be hosted by Japan at the Tokyo Dome. Who will come out on top remains to be seen but it will definitely be worth watching.

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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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2013 Big League World Series: Latin America Scores in the Ninth to Win International Championship


EASLEY, South Carolina – The Championship Game is set for the 2013 Big League World Series after the semifinal matches on Tuesday. The top two teams in each pool (USA and International) played for a spot in the final game that will come on Wednesday night.

The International Pool Championship Game featured two very solid teams in Asia-Pacific (Chinese Taipei) and Latin America (Venezuela). Asia-Pacific entered the game undefeated after finishing 4-0 in the pool play. They gave Latin America its only loss of the tournament in a 7-1 victory early on. However, this time Latin America would get its revenge.

Latin America jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. It got the inning started with a lead off single by Alexander Lopez (1-for-4). A pinch-runner was brought in for Lopez and he was quickly moved to second base. After reaching third base on an error, Latin America had runners at the corners with no outs. Then the runner at first was thrown out stealing second. The batter at the time then hit a ground ball and the runner at third was thrown out at home.

It looked like Asia-Pacific would get out of the inning, but Latin America would mount a two-out rally. A walk put runners at first and second with the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup coming up. Diego Paz (1-for-3) singled in the first run of the game, and EJ Lugo (1-for-3), the ninth place hitter, came through with another RBI single to give Latin America a 2-0 lead.

Asia-Pacific came back with a run of its own in the bottom of the third on a Kuo-Chen Fan double (2-for-4). It tied the game in the fifth inning on a Chen-Fei Lin double (1-for-2).

The game stayed tied with both pitching staffs having nice days. Latin America reliever Franklin Morales pitched five innings allowing just one run on one hit. He would eventually pick up the win.

Fang-Chun Yuan pitched great in relief as well for Asia-Pacific. He came on in the second inning and went 7.1 innings in relief. He didn’t give up a run until the ninth inning when Latin America would finally get to him.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Andherson Yance (2-for-3) got the Latin America rally going with a double. Two pitches later Luis Macias (1-for-4) singled up the middle to drive in Yance with the go-ahead run.

With the lead, Alvaro Lugo came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth to earn the save and send Latin America to the World Series Championship Game.

They will now face the USA Pool champion in the 2013 Big League World Series Championship on Wednesday night.

Photo Big League World Series

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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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WBC: Puerto Rico vs Venezuela Pitching Match Up


The game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela holds big implications on who will move onto the second round. Venezuela is coming off a disappointing loss to the Dominican Republic and need to win to stay alive. If Puerto Rico can pull out the victory, they would move on with the Dominican (if they hold on vs Spain).

So let’s see who will start on the hill for each team in this critical match up.

Puerto Rico

Veteran right-hander Nelson Figueroa will get the start for Puerto Rico. Figueroa spent the 2012 season in Triple-A but has a lot of MLB experience pitching in parts of nine seasons at the highest level. His last season at the Major League level was 2011 with Houston.

In 2012, he went 12-5 in 25 games including 15 starts. He posted an ERA of 3.89 over 115.2 innings.

He has international experience having pitched in four games for Puerto Rico in the 2009 WBC. He pitched 7.1 innings in 2009 allowing just two hits and striking out six.

Venezuela

Carlos Zambrano gets the nod for Venezuela in this must win game. Zambrano spent the 2012 season with the Miami Marlins going 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA.

Zambrano is a free agent, so he will be looking to impress scouts showing that he can still be an effective pitcher at age 31. He is a former N.L. All-Star and 18-game winner with the Chicago Cubs.

Zambrano pitched for Venezuela in the 2006 WBC. He pitched in two games, including one start, going 6.2 innings picking up a win and posting a 5.40 ERA.

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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.

Posted in N. America, MLB, MinorsComments (0)

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