LIDOM: Tigres, Estrellas Begin Finals Tonight

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
Jan. 13, 2023

Tigres del Licey will face Estrellas Orientales in a best-of-seven series for the Lidom championship starting Friday, January 13.

Licey won its last game 8-0 vs Gigantes del Cibao. Estrellas won its last two games 3-2 vs Aguilas Cibeñas and 5-2 vs Gigantes.

The round-robin MVP was Licey’s Emilio Bonifaćio, who was a former big league utility man. The runner-up was Estrellas’ third baseman Jamier Candelario, who signed with the Washington Nationals this offseason.  

Bonifacio is 37 years old and played 12 years in the Major Leagues for eight teams, spending the bulk of it with the Florida Marlins. He stole 166 bases and batted .256 in his MLB career. Candelario is 29 years old and spent the last six years with the Detroit Tigers. Candelario has 66 home runs and an OPS of .723 in his MLB career. 

Each team has added some reinforcements in the draft. Licey drafted outfielder Darion Blanco and pitcher Alemao Hernandez. Estrellas drafted infielder Henry Urrutia and pitcher Carlos Hernandez.  

Blanco is a 29-year-old Cuban, who made his debut with the Kansas City Royals this past season. He got three hits in six at-bats in the round-robin. He will provide some speed and could be used as a pinch runner for Licey.  

Alemao Hernandez is a 23-year-old Mexican who pitched one game, allowing no runs in seven innings with four strikeouts. He has spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and also played in the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico. 

Carlos Hernandez is a 25-year-old Venezuelan, who has pitched 156 innings with the Royals. Hernandez had a great regular season with a 1.60 ERA in 42 innings. He got roughed up in the round robin allowing seven runs in two innings. 

Two hitters that stand out for Licey are infielder Ronny Mauricio and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Jairo Asencio has arguably been their best pitcher. Mauricio is 21 and the New York Mets’ sixth-rated prospect. The Mets have him at shortstop, but he’ll likely have to switch positions to stick with the Mets. Mauricio broke out last season with a career-high 26 home runs for the Mets’ Double-A affiliate in Binghamton and showed off his speed by stealing 20 bases. He has great tools, but needs to improve on his plate discipline. Mauricio won the Lidom regular season MVP with 61-of-69 votes. Mauricio had five home runs, 31 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an OPS of .803. The future is very bright for him and he could be a key to Licey winning it all. 

Alfaro is 29 and has played with the Philadelphia Phillies, Marlins and now the San Diego Padres. Alfaro hit seven home runs with 40 RBI in 82 games last season. He has 47 career home runs, 194 RBI and an OPS of .701. Alfaro tore the cover off the ball with a .383 batting average and an OPS over .1.100 in the round robin. He hit two home runs with nine RBI in 16 games.

Asencio is 39 and has been well traveled playing with four MLB teams, the KBO and the Mexican League. In MLB he played with the Braves, Guardians, White Sox and Orioles. He threw 24 innings in the regular season with 20 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.19. He basically mirrored that in the round robin with an ERA of 2.35. His veteran leadership will be key to guiding Licey’s pitching staff. 

Estrellas features several players with big-league experience: pitcher Oliver Perez, infielder Robinson Cano and outfielder Cristian Pache. Perez and Cano are done in MLB, while Pache still has a long way to go with the Oakland Athletics.  

Perez is 41 and was just in the majors last season, but he only threw four innings. He played for 20 seasons with eight big league clubs. His most notable teams were the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. Perez went 74-94 with 1,546 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.37. He was a starter and reliever. Perez threw four innings in the round robin allowing one run with two strikeouts. The lefty can still get people out with his deception. 

Cano is 40 and had 100 MLB at-bats last season. He put up Hall of Fame-worthy numbers with the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Mets. He had over 2,600 hits, 335 home runs and a batting average of 301. For a second baseman, those are outstanding numbers, but steroids will leave a dark cloud over his legacy, as he was twice suspended by MLB for testing positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs. This might be the last time we see Cano put on a uniform in any capacity. His OPS was .567 in 62 at-bats for Estrellas. 

Pache is 24 and was the Braves’ top prospect. He was traded for Matt Olson last year. His defense is incredible and was just recently on display when he robbed Jonathan Villar of a home run. He had a rough year with the A’s with an OPS of .459 in 92 games. Pache has an OPS of .599 in 17 games with Estrellas. 

The pitching matchup for tonight’s game 1 is Estrellas’ Andy Otero who is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA vs Licey’s Cesar Valdés, who is 6-0 for Tigres with a 1.51 ERA this season.

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