Playoff baseball officially got underway in the Caribbean Winter Leagues last week and a few Kansas City Royals players are participating.
The Venezuelan Winter League and Puerto Rican League’s regular season did not come to an end until January 2nd and December 30th respectively.
Let’s start in Venezuela.
Centerfielder Paulo Orlando batted fifth on December 29th and third on January 2nd for Lara (29-25). In those two games, he went 2-for-8 with a double, two runs scored, and a sac fly.
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 joined Zulia (35-28 during the regular season). In Game One 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.
In the VWL, five teams made the postseason. Aragua is in first place at 1-0, while Zulia, Caribes, and Magallanes follow at 1-1. La Guaira is in last at 0-1.
Now to Puerto Rico.
The top four teams in the five team league made the playoffs, including 19-19 Santurce. In the final game of the regular season, second baseman Jack Lopez went 0-for-3 while batting ninth.
Since big leaguers join winter league rosters for the postseason, Lopez, who had started just about every game for Santurce, is relegated to the bench. Santurce is 3-0 in the postseason (tops in the postseason, with the other three teams at 1-2) and Lopez entered on defense in Game 2 in the eighth.
Finally to the Dominican Republic. where they had already started their playoffs.
In the round robin format, Gigantes is on top at 5-2, with Aguilas, Estrellas, and Toros at 3-4.
Moises Sierra has played right field in every game for Gigantes throughout the playoffs. He has gone 4-for-18 with three RBIs. He has struck out four times.
Francisco Pena has caught three games for Aguilas. So far in the postseason, he has gone 0-for-9 with three strikeouts. Angel Franco is in the same boat as Lopez, relegated to the bench with veterans joining the winter league ranks. On January 3rd, he entered on defense at second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth (for Miguel Tejada). On Sunday, Franco pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded out.
Right-handed reliever Michael Mariot returned to Gigantes, pitching on January 3rd in their 4-3 loss. Over 1.2 innings (he entered in the sixth after a three-run home run gave Aguilas the lead), Mariot struck out three.