Royals winter league weekly recap


The round robin playoffs are in full swing in the Caribbean Winter Leagues. The Kansas City Royals even have a new player playing in the winter leagues.

Let’s start in the Dominican Republic.

That is where right-hander Malcom Culver has started pitching in relief for first place Gigantes (10-3). As Gigantes went 5-1 last week, Culver debuted on January 8th (1.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K). In that game, he entered in the 4th inning with one on and two outs and got veteran Rafael Furcal to ground out. Culver would pitch once more (January 12th) when he walked one and struck out one over 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. He entered in the 5th inning with a runner on and one out. He induced an inning ending double play.

Fellow right-handed reliever Michael Mariot was very busy last week for Gigantes. He pitched in four games, totaling 3.2 innings. On January 5th, he did get his first blown save by allowing an unearned run in the seventh. He also entered with a runner on base (which scored). Over two scoreless innings after that, he allowed three hits while striking out two. However, between those two scoreless outings, he allowed a solo home run to Ronny Paulino on January 9th.

Moises Sierra continued to start in right field and bat third for Gigantes. He went 6-for-22 with four runs scored. On January 5th (the game Mariot had the blown save), Sierra hit a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

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pitched once last week for Gigantes. He earned his third postseason hold on January 9th when he entered in the sixth. He did however allow a run on two hits while striking out one over 2/3 of an inning.

Gigantes currently has a three game lead over Estrellas (7-6) in the DWL round robin playoffs.

Aguilas is five games back at 5-8. Francisco Pena started four games at catcher. In those games, he went 1-for-11. He collected his first playoff hit on January 9th. He also committed a throwing error in that game. On Sunday, he entered on defense in the bottom of the eighth and grounded into a force out in the ninth.

Angel Franco did not start a game last week for Aguilas. However, he did get some playing time at second base. On January 8th, he entered on defense in the sixth and went 1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. The following night, he entered on defense in the ninth. On January 10th, he pinch ran for Furcal in the eighth and stayed in to play second base. Franco pinch-hit in the eighth on Sunday and flew out, but he delivered the tie-breaking and eventual winning hit, a two-run triple in the ninth.

Moving on to Venezuela, where the round robin playoff standings look like this: Caribes 6-2, Magallanes 4-3, Zulia 3-4, La Guaira 3-4, and Aragua 2-5.

Gabriel Noriega played third base in four games for Zulia. He went 2-for-13 with six strikeouts.

Somehow I missed the Royals signing of first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor, who has been tearing up the VWL. Over the weekend, he was a big reason why Caribes went 2-0. On Saturday, he went 4-for-6 with a double, a solo home run, three runs scored, and two RBIs. On Sunday, Fuenmayor went 1-for-3 with a two out, two-run home run in the ninth.

Finally to Puerto Rico, whose round robin playoff standings look like this: Santurce 5-2, Mayaguez 4-3, Carolina 3-4, and Caguas 2-5.

Infielder Jack Lopez only got into one game for first place Santurce, and that came as a pinch runner on January 7th.

Centerfielder Reymond Fuentes is back playing for Santurce. He started two of the three weekend games (Saturday’s games were rained out) and went 3-for-9 with an RBI and two strikeouts.