Playoff baseball is underway in the Caribbean Winter Leagues. The number of KC Royals players participating in the winter leagues has dwindled though, with just six still in action.
The Puerto Rican League and the Venezuelan Winter League’s regular season did not come to an end until December 30th and January 2nd respectively.
Let’s start in the Puerto Rican League.
Since big leaguers join winter league rosters for the postseason, Lopez, a Santurce starter, has been relegated to the bench. Santurce is 3-0 in the postseason while the other three teams are 1-2. Lopez entered on defense in Game 2 in the eighth, a 3-1 victory over Mayaguez.
Now to the Venezuelan Winter League.
Centerfielder Paulo Orlando batted fifth on December 29th and third on January 2nd for Lara (29-35). In those two games, he went 2-for-8 with a double, a sac fly, and two runs scored. Lara did not make the VWL postseason.
Shortstop Gabriel Noriega entered on defense in the 9th inning on December 29th for Lara, his final game for Lara. With the playoffs beginning, Noriega has joined Zulia (35-28 during the regular season). In Game 1 of the VWL playoffs for Zulia, Noriega went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. He played third base and batted eighth in Zulia’s 12-11 walk off loss (his only game thus far).
In the VWL, five teams made the postseason. Caribes and Magallanes are tied at the top at 2-1. Zulia and Aragua are both 1-1, while La Guaira is 0-2.
Finally to the Dominican Winter League. Here the playoffs had already started.
Moises Sierra has played right field in every game for Gigantes throughout the playoffs. He has gone 5-for-22 with seven RBIs. He has struck out six times. Gigantes walked off on Monday night over Estrellas, 9-5. They scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth, four on Sierra’s walk off grand slam.
Francisco Pena has caught four games for Aguilas. So far in the postseason, he has gone 0-for-13 with five strikeouts.
Angel Franco is in the same situation as Lopez, relegated to the bench with veterans joining the winter league playoffs. On January 3rd, he entered on defense at second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth. On Sunday, Franco pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded out.
Right-hander Michael Mariot returned to Gigantes, pitching on January 3rd in their 4-3 loss. Over 1.2 innings of relief (he entered in the sixth after a three-run home run gave Aguilas the lead), Mariot struck out three.
He pitched again on Monday, though he suffered the blown save. After entering in the seventh with a runner on base, Mariot proceeded to allow a single, a walk, a sac fly, another fly out, an error by Philadelphia first base prospect Maikel Franco extended the inning, and an RBI single ended Mariot’s night. Former Royal Zach Jackson got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Stay tuned next Tuesday for a playoff edition of the winter league recap!